The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and the Freeride World Tour (FWT) announced a merger this past Thursday, creating further unity among all disciplines in skiing and snowboarding. According to the press release, the merger will not change the competition’s format or judging system, and day to day operations of the Tour will remain under the control of FWT.
The FIS, which currently governs alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding, will focus both on the marketing and governance of the tour, pushing the competition to follow the guidelines for recognized Olympic sports.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with FIS. For our freeride athletes and event organizers, being under the umbrella of the largest winter sports International Federation, recognized by the International Olympic Committee, will give them more access to support, increased visibility and additional resources that will ultimately allow the FWT and all of its stakeholders to grow.” – FWT CEO Nicholas Hale-Woods
The merger with FWT will see FIS add one of the most exciting, dynamic winter sports to its portfolio. This is truly a win-win for all parties as FIS can bring massive growth potential to the FWT providing the chance to develop on a broader stage. FWT brings a highly professional tour that offers breathtaking action and an entirely new element of skiing and snowboarding to FIS.” – FIS President Johan Eliasch
Now I know y’all don’t necessarily care about my opinion, but I do have a few hopes and concerns that I’d like to address here. IF this merger does work to bring more attention to the competition, IF the qualification format and judging system stay the same, and IF the FIS allows the FWT to more or less continue to manage themselves, then I could definitely see this as a positive.
HOWEVER, the FIS is not known to be the best governing body in the world. My biggest concern surrounds streaming rights. In the past, we’ve been able to watch the Freeride World Tour as it happens, for free, on their website or on YouTube. But, with FIS managing marketing, it seems as though streaming rights could easily be sold off to someone charging way too much for the few events that happen within a season. This seems to happen all too often nowadays, like when the UCI sold off the rights to the Mountain Bike World Cup to Discovery Sports, despite Red Bull managing the streams so gosh darn well. If we have to start paying a boat load of money to watch these FWT events, you can bet I won’t be watching, and I’m sure that goes for plenty of others.
Featured Image Credit: Freeride World Tour via YouTube