Alpine skiing turns to former F1 boss Ecclestone for advice


SOELDEN, Austria – The International Ski Federation is looking to Bernie Ecclestone for advice, hoping the former Formula 1 boss can do in alpine skiing what he has done in motor racing in the past.

FIS President Johan Eliasch said he had approached Ecclestone to be part of a new advisory board, intended to help the ski governing body shape the future of the sport.

“Bernie has done incredibly well with Formula 1, brought it from a sport that was not so well recognized to a world super sport. I always appreciate his contribution. The idea is that he is part of it. ‘a future FIS advisory board,’ said Eliasch, speaking on the eve of the opening World Cup races in the Austrian Alps.

Ecclestone, who turns 91 on Thursday, gained a commercial grip on F1 in the late 1970s by selling his television rights. Four decades later, the British business mogul had full commercial control over the sport when he stepped down in 2017.

Eliasch hopes that Ecclestone’s experience can help alpine skiing improve its global marketing.

“It is not the question of knowing if, it is the question of when, because I do not think that there is any other international federation which has not centralized its management of rights or which is in the process of to do it, ”Eliasch said.

The problem with decentralized rights management became evident, as ski fans in the United States did not know for long whether they would be able to see last weekend’s races, which included American riders like Mikaela Shiffrin, Nina O ‘ Brien and Paula Moltzan. in the women’s giant slalom on Saturday, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle and River Radamus in the men’s SG on Sunday.

It only became clear on Friday that the races will be shown in the United States on an online streaming service.

“I’m very, very worried about this. It was one of my commitments, to centralize the management of rights, ”said Eliasch. “It’s a great example of why it’s so important that we have control. It shouldn’t even be a possibility that the races are not visible, especially in a market as large for us as the United States.

Ecclestone would not be the only FIS adviser in old age, since Peter Schröcksnadel, 80, the former president of the Austrian Ski Federation, is chairman of the Alpine Future Vision working group, which was installed after the Eliasch’s election last June.

“He’s very active and has a lot of great ideas,” Eliasch said. “It’s a bit early to deliberate on what we’re going to do in the future. We are evaluating many possibilities, including increasing night races and different calendars to make races less travel-intensive. Also, the formats, to make them more attractive. And to get races to more destinations.

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