Ski racing is constantly evolving. The start list for the speed races, Downhill and Super G, has long been a contentious subject with the analysis of when people turned on to watch races showing that people were just watching around the top ten racers, in effect a couple either side of bibs 16 – 22. The new start list that is in place from the Opening speed races, for men and women, this weekend hopes to lengthen the attention of the viewers in the races.
So how will the start list work?
The new start list idea has evolved from an idea that came to FIS from the racers. The top ten racers on the World Cup Start List (WCSL) will chose their bib from the odd numbers between 1 and 19. With some racers having preferences for early numbers, Mike Kertisz from FIS believes that tactics will now come into place. Conditions of the snow on the course, light, wind will all now be weighed up by the racer, their coaches and teams to try and get the best possible conditions to race. There will be some interesting strategy decisions.
The even numbers from bib 2 to 20 will be taken by racers 11 to 20 on the WCSL. This group will not be allowed to pick their starting position but will be subject to an electronic double draw. This means that tin one pot will be the ranking of the racer on the WCSL and in the second pot will be the start number.
For the racers that are ranked 21 to 30 on the WCSL, their starting order will be decided by the double electronic draw as well for positions 21 to 30.
So that the television companies are happy, there will now be TV breaks after 10, 20 and 30 of about three to four minutes long each.
The start intervals will remain the same for the top twenty racers as well. The interval, however, could be different lengths at different races but will remain constant at each race. The interval will be smaller for 21 to 30 and then smaller again for 31 onwards.
For Downhill training the interval for bibs 1 to 5 will be the race interval to test the intervals for television and calling start stops and then from 6 it will be a short interval.
Why has this all come about? In essence so that more countries and more racers are watched by a wider audience. This in turn helps sponsors, resorts, Television companies.
Kertesz says, “The whole programme is designed around an efficient and good TV product but also driven by the athletes and their request to be able to choose their numbers versus being drawn.”
For the public draw now read Public Pick! The tech events will have the draw but the speed events will have the Pick! The new system it is hoped with keep the viewers involved from 1 to 20. There are a whole bunch of factors but FIS hope it will work.