46th International Ski Congress

Snow skiing is generally not a sport readily associated with sunny South Africa. However, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Council chose to hold its spring 46th International Ski Congress in South Africa’s mother city, Cape Town, thereby making history as the first-ever FIS Congress to be held on the African continent.

During the first two days of the International Ski Congress, several decisions related to the FIS World Championships were made. The dates for the 2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to be held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany has been set for the 8th of February through to the 20th of February 2011. Additionally the dates for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships to be held in the Norwegian city of Oslo were confirmed for the 22nd of February through to the 6th March 2011.

The council also confirmed that the Italian Winter Sports Federation would be the official organizer of the 2009 FIS Roller Ski World Championships to be held in Piglio. Further, the Norwegian Ski Association was appointed as the official organizer of the 2011 FIS Telemark World Championships which will be held in Rjukan. The Norwegian Ski Association will also be organizing the 2011 FIS Roller Skiing World Championships to be held in Aure, Hemne and Kristiansund.

Other decisions that were made with regard to upcoming winter sport events include the appointment of Otepää, Estonia, as the 2011 host for the FIS Nordic Junior Ski Championships. Since the inclusion of the Under-23 (U-23) Cross-Country World Championships, the numbers of participants has increased dramatically. Taking this into account it was decided that in future the FIS Nordic World Junior Championships and the U-23 Cross Country Championships would take place as separate individual events.

It was also decided that the organizers of the senior FIS World Championships in the respective disciplines would take on the responsibility of organizing the FIS Junior World Championships, either one or two years before the major event or within one or two years after.

Other topics for discussion on the agenda of the International Ski Congress included report-backs on the preparations for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 FIS World Ski Championships, as well as the Junior World Championships; the optimization of the Alpine World Cup; a review of the current status, findings and expectations of the FIS Injury Surveillance system; and a discussion on the marketing campaign “Bring Children to Snow”, which invites younger generations to participate in snow-related activities.

There is one dedicated ski resort in South Africa – the Tiffindell Ski Resort in the Eastern Cape – and during winter, Cape Town ski operators offer exciting snow skiing opportunities in the Western Cape Mountains, complete with heli-skiing and heli-boarding for the more adventurous. However, most South Africans with a desire to slide rapidly down a mountain-type landscape have to be content with sand boarding, which in itself is a thrilling experience.