Pete Swenson represented the USSMA at the the ISMF Plenary meeting in Stockholm 13-15 June. The Plenary was attended by 21 federations, the new ISMF media partner TKS, an FIS observer, and the La Grand Course organizing committee.
Ski Mountaineering Olympic Status
The IOC granted "Provisional Recognition" of the ISMF and ski mountaineering in April of 2014. This means the IOC will "audit" the sport and the ISMF for the upcoming two seasons and in 2016 will accept or decline ski mountaineering for the 2022 Olympics. While all parties involved are understandably excited by the prospect of the Olympics, my "off the record" conversations with people with experience/knowledge of the IOC decision-making process were sobering. At best the chances of inclusion are 50/50. Some individuals involved in the process feel 2022 is unlikely 2026 is more realistic.
- The Olympic event format is undecided and under much discussion. Everything from a 45 minute 3-4 lap race to a traditional 1:45-2:00 hr race is under consideration. IOC concerns include: security, safety of racers, proximity of the venue, TV coverage, spectator access and environmental impact. The ISMF will satisfying the concerns of IOC but also put on an event that shows off the best aspects of ski mountaineering, is "true to the mountains", spectacular, and captures the interest of the public (and youth segment in particular).
- The IOC wants to see 40 federations (up from the current 31).
- The IOC audit of the sport is as concerned with the ISMF organization and it's structure/abilities as they are the conduct of the World Cup events.
Doping control is a significant expense; 24% (28,000 Euro) of the ISMF budget goes to doping controls. During the 13/14 season there were 55 tests in/out of competition, no positive tests.
La Grand Course is now a part of the ISMF World Cup as a "Long Distance Team World Cup" Beginning this coming season three LDT events will be added to the World Cup calendar. All LDT events are team events. Currently the Grand Course series is five events, but will expand in the future. I discussed the potential addition of a US GC event with the GC promoters and they were quite interested and will be visiting the US to review potential venues.
World Cup calendar events in 2014/15 will be five events, plus three LDT.
The ISMF approved a "North American Continental Cup" that will likely include four events: Irwin Lodge, Crested Butte, Powder Keg and a Canadian race.
There were no additions to the Equipment Pool of 19 members and no significant changes to ISMF race rules. Azerbaijan and the Netherlands were added to the ISMF member nations.
TKS Media has been signed as the media/marketing partner of the ISMF. TKS has produced event coverage for soccer and auto racing markets, their focus will initially be on selling TV coverage to European markets followed by North America and Asia.