International Ski Federation remains International Ski Federation as attempt to change the name fails

Johan Eliasch presides over first FIS Congress as president. New statutes are overwhelmingly passed.

The FIS Extraordinary Congrees anchored virtually by Johan Eliasch (left) from FIS Headquarters in Oberhofen Am Thunersee (FIS)
The FIS Extraordinary Congrees anchored virtually by Johan Eliasch (left) from FIS Headquarters in Oberhofen Am Thunersee (FIS)

The International Ski Federation withstood a proposed name change to the International Ski and Snowboard Federation in a vote during a FIS Extraordinary Congress conducted virtually on Friday.

New FIS president Johan Eliasch – presiding over his first Congress four months after being elected – announced the results with the proposed new name receiving 66 out of a possible 115 votes (57.4%), while the longstanding name received 49 votes (42.6%). However, a two-thirds majority was required to adapt the new name, a change coming up 12 votes short.

“It is worth noting here, even though International Ski and Snowboard Federation did not gain the required two-thirds majority, the electorate has spoken quite clearly in terms of its considered views and I think when it comes to both branding and identity, we need to find ways to incorporate snowboarding,” Eliasch said, addressing delegates virtually.

“An important lesson learned today is that there is a desire from our stakeholders that we do a better job of being inclusive of all disciplines in our daily communication and promotion of FIS.”

The online vote pertaining to a potential alternative name was conducted in two steps, with Eliasch, FIS secretary general Michel Vion and director Philippe Gueisbuhler anchoring the Congress from FIS headquarters in Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland. It was noted prior to the vote that even if the name change had been approved, the FIS acronym would still remain.

The proposed International Ski and Snowboard Federation name won over a second alternative name, the International Snowsports Federation, by a vote of 57-51 during the first stage.

Additionally, new FIS Statutes were overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 106 to 3 during Friday’s proceedings. The newly-adopted Statutes address several key areas including placing term limits on Council members and the FIS President, bringing more gender equity to the FIS Council, further engagement in sustainability and giving FIS additional flexibility to adapt its rights structure.

Johan Eliasch was elected new FIS president in June. (Eliasch)
Johan Eliasch was elected new FIS president in June. (Eliasch)

“When I was elected president, I ran on a campaign that promised change,” said Eliasch, who assumed the role of FIS president following 16 years as the chief executive of the HEAD Sports Group. “Today, I am proud that, together with our Member National Associations, we reached another important milestone on this common and exciting path. With the adjustments to the FIS Statutes, we now have the framework to effectively and purposefully implement our vision and our goals.

“There is a lot of work to do, but with such an emphatic voting result and the clear trust and support of our members, I look forward to leading FIS into its next chapter.”

At the opening of the Extraordinary Congress, which lasted just over one hour, Eliasch spoke about what has already been accomplished during his first four months in office and the vision for a successful future. He highlighted three specific areas.

“International snow sport must be built on a solid foundation of good governance and transparency, snow sport has multiple opportunities to develop and commercialize its growth, and finally snow sports across all our disciplines can and will grow to everyone’s benefits,” Eliasch said.

“I have a discovered through our discussions that you share the same vision of enhancing our sport and using a wholistic approach to seek a brighter future for our athletes, their support teams and the athletes who follow behind them.”

Eliasch paid tribute and asked for a moment of silence for Gian Franco Kasper, noting his immense contributions to the federation and snow sports over his nearly five decades in FIS leadership positions. Kasper died on July 9, just over a month after Eliasch was elected as his successor on June 4.

Gian Franco Kasper participating in the opening ceremony of the XLV World Alpine Skiing Championships in Are (Sweden) in 2019. EFE/ CHRISTIAN BRUNA/Archivo
Gian Franco Kasper participating in the opening ceremony of the XLV World Alpine Skiing Championships in Are (Sweden) in 2019. EFE/ CHRISTIAN BRUNA/Archivo

“Before we talk about next steps for FIS, it is important to remember and endorse the incredible service which Gian Franco Kasper devoted to FIS,” Eliasch said.

“We all miss him hugely. The FIS family was such a huge part of his life and our lives.”

The International Ski Federation, and its longstanding name and FIS acronym, was founded 97 years ago on February 2, 1924 in Chamonix, France, during the inaugural Winter Olympics.

The next FIS Congress, which will be the federation’s 53rd, is scheduled for Vilamoura, Portugal, next May 22-29.

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