Splendeurs & Miseres De Tour De Ski

… With her finish lunge Anamarija Lampič has brought victory for herself – and Slovenia. Thus proving beyond any doubt that in even in 2019 skiers from a country of just two million people could still compete and win.

Johaug and Klaebo won what they were widely expected to win and Ustigov has proven that he’s back in the game & roaring.

…From a purely sporting point, the fourteen edition of Tour de Ski is a full package, anything & everything that even an occasional fan of skiing might want.

The problem is, the competition itself is hurting.

….According to a legend, Jürg Capol, then FIS xcski race director, had suggested the idea of Tour de Ski to Vegard Ulvang while in sauna.

The same legend says that the idea was to have ” ten days, eight stages and a million Swiss francs in prize money”

Good: the “sauna idea” took shape and Tour de Ski is being held for the fourteenth time.

Bad: It’s in slow decline.
The 2019/2020 edition is only 7 stages ( races) per gender over only three locations (the least ever), thanks to late cancellation of a planned Vaduz, Lichtenstein venue. Oberstdorf is off the TdS list this year as it stages customary pre- world championships competitions in late January – and not a single other place in Germany was willing or able to offer to host the series instead. Austria? TdS simply never ever came to the country that is famous for organizing skiing competitions!

Most tellingly, only about half, 560.000 of planned one million Swiss franks are in that prize money pot this year. Ten years ago young Dario Cologna took home 157k after winning his first TdS – were he win again in 2019/2020, his take-home check would be less than half that, even if he were to win every single stage and all the additional bonuses.

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Even Tour de Ski father-inventor now says TdS needs a “splash of color “.

Capol in his current job is better positioned that anyone on this planet to know that it would take a lot more than that.

The current system whereas where OCs or event organizing committees have to beg local authorities for funds because commercial earnings do not cover the costs is becoming more and more untenable. That’s what happened in Vaduz last year: the OC wanted a bridge loan of sorts from the duchy’s government that put it to a referendum. Good citizens of Lichtenstein promptly rejected the idea of having a TdS stage using public funds.

Good citizens of Lichtenstein have decided that 800000 Swiss franks that would go towards organizing TdS stage in Vaduz would be best spent elsewhere. Like building another art museum, perhaps

Biathlon’s IBU solved the funding issue by centralizing marketing rights – and is prospering ever since. But the FIS is absolutely unique: marketing rights for international competitions belong to respective national federations. Each with its own idea of right, wrong and profitable.

The Swissman who is now in the crucial position of Marketing Manager for the FIS is waging the battle to overhaul the whole organizational chart of the FIS. The organization is absolutely unique: in its 96 years of history it only had 4 ( four!) presidents. But in 2020 it will get a fifth – Gian-Franco Kasper is stepping down after nearly 22 years at the helm. We’ll soon find out how the international federation will change and, by extension, whether that idea of one million francs in prize money could become a reality.

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