Top Story Replay: Ski Federation Must Fill Leadership Vacancy

(ATR) Questions remain in the wake of the FIS Council's sudden removal of secretary general Sarah Lewis.

(ATR) Questions remain in the wake of the International Ski Federation Council’s sudden removal of secretary general Sarah Lewis due to a "complete loss of confidence" and "by a great majority vote," according to FIS.

Lewis, the secretary general of FIS since 2000, was removed from her duties on Oct. 9, effective immediately, with the governing body only issuing a terse statement without providing specifics of wrongdoing.

"President Kasper will oversee the daily activities of FIS in the interim phase. Information about the replacement process, including a timeline, will be communicated at a later date," a FIS spokesperson tells Around the Rings.

The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup opens its season with giant slalom races in Soelden, Austria, this weekend, October 17-18. The annual FIS Forum, in which Lewis traditionally participates, addressing national ski federations, race organizers and media, has previously been called off due to Covid-19 precautions.

The former British ski racer and 1988 Olympian had been seen as a potential candidate for FIS president. Gian-Franco Kasper, who has led the FIS since 1998, declared his intentions to step down last November, prior to elections twice being postponed by the coronavirus. The election is now planned for a FIS Congress in Portoroz, Slovenia, in June 2021.

Lewis, 55, would not address a possible run for the FIS presidency when asked by Around the Rings in April, just over a month after season-ending World Cup races were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"I’m not going to go down that route," Lewis told ATR. "Frankly, the situation is I’m absolutely completely focused on the work that has be done now which is extremely intensive and extremely significant."

Lewis is also the secretary general for the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) and a member of the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission representing AIOWF.

An IOC spokesperson tells Around the Rings that Lewis' membership in IOC commissions and working groups was linked to her position at FIS and AIOWF and ends with her term as FIS secretary general.

In April, Lewis discussed potential changes in FIS snow sports with ATR that could result from the coronavirus pandemic and what she believes might be the future of the governing body.

"It will have to be a new reality – we’re not going to be able to return to the situation exactly as it has been in the past," she said. "Everyone is going to be adapting how they do things, but there is no question that the communications and empathy that we’ve been able to find within the entire communication is an important spirit that we should each retain moving forward."

The Swiss ski federation president and former downhill world champion Urs Lehmann has officially declared his candidacy for FIS president, while other likely candidates include Swedish FIS vice president Mats Arjes and the billionaire chairman of the Head ski and tennis brand, Johan Eliasch.

Eliasch, a dual Swedish and British citizen was endorsed by GB Snowsports, in a move seen as surprising to some as they did not back Lewis considering her many years of service to the FIS.

Lewis began working for FIS in 1994 and served four years as the Continental Cups coordinator. She advanced to FIS Director in 1998, prior to her appointment to secretary general by the FIS Council in Melbourne in 2000.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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