Chairman's Opening Remarks Dubrovnik (CRO) 2009

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FIS Committee for Freestyle Skiing in Dubrovnik (CRO), May 20th - 25, 2009 Welcome to Delegates and Opening Remarks

The winter of 2008/09 saw a full schedule of Freestyle competitions around the world including a very successful World Freestyle Championships in Inawashiro Japan. As we head into the next year, the focus will turn to the Olympic Games once again. The successes of the past season have prepared our sport well for the attention we will receive in Vancouver.

Despite the challenges of integrating new events into our structure, Freestyle is growing and thriving. There is new strength in the classic events of Moguls and Aerials, bolstered by model programs in traditionally strong nations but stimulated by emerging countries such as China (in Moguls) and an increasing number of eastern European and Asian athletes in Aerials.

The new events have momentum with Ski Cross now well established worldwide and the strong fields of Halfpipe athletes in the FIS World Cups and World Championships this season.

The goal of Ski Cross being included in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games has been realized. I believe our sport is ready to move to the next level and make the push for Halfpipe to be included in the 2014 Olympics. It will be important to reinforce the Freestyle Committee’s previously stated proposal to the FIS Council, and reiterate our desire for the FIS to formally ask the IOC to consider Halfpipe as a new event in 2014.

With our rules fully developed and tested for the Olympics next season, now is also the time to start looking beyond 2010 and to develop the vision for our sport over the next quadrennial. The past four years proved very fruitful with excellent work done by many people at all levels of the sport. Without the collaboration between the FIS committees, Working Groups, coaches and athletes, we would not have been able to achieve the significant changes that were made to the air component in Moguls, for example. This type of work has significantly improved our sport.

To determine priorities for change in the future, we need to identify where weaknesses need to be overcome and opportunities exist. I have said in the past that our current success may be our biggest weakness. The challenge of fully integrating all of our events into NSA structures has already forced some countries to make decisions at the expense of the potential for development in one event or another. It is important to support the areas of strength in different countries. I hope this doesn't come with stifling development in areas that have potential. Some might say 'we can't have it all', and that's true. Encouraging our event specific Working Groups to bring forward ideas and recommendations on how to best address these challenges will help the Freestyle Committee to focus our efforts on finding the right path for the future.

We must not deny the current momentum in our sport or lose sight of the opportunities this presents. Freestyle is suddenly ‘topical’ in circles where we have barely stirred a thought in the past. Being top of mind makes us open to scrutiny but also opens doors. I believe now is the time to take advantage of heightened awareness and focus on ‘quality’, not ‘quantity’.

We need to make our product stand out among the wide range of sporting events that compete for audience attention. On this point, I do not believe the media value of Freestyle has reached its potential. One area of work that will enhance our marketability is to improve the TV product along with the distribution of quality Freestyle video content on the internet. Thanks to InFront and members of the TV Working Group established at the fall `08 meeting in Zürich for ongoing work to re-write the TV guidelines for Freestyle and consider the best path for our future as a viable and valuable media and TV product.

As Chairman, I have to admit that I am uncomfortable with the varying commitments that exist within our National Associations to the different events in our sport. The eyes of the sport are focused in many different direction right now. The Freestyle Committee needs to remain vigilant to ensure that we don’t lose sight of our vulnerability AND opportunities that comes with the regional disparity in the different events.

I still believe we hold the keys to the greatest 'snow show' on earth. Let’s continue to work together and capitalize on the opportunities that exist beyond the doors we have opened.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Robinson Chairman Freestyle Committee

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