The International Ski Federation (FIS) had just four presidents in its first 97 years. As of October 2021, the organization took steps to encourage change. It added a limit of three four-year terms for leadership positions. It also added a statute that required more women members (3 of the 18 members must be women) on the powerful FIS council, which previously only had one sitting woman member. The delegates’ votes on these changes were nearly unanimous (106 to 3).
This move came about after Johan Eliasch was selected to finish the last year of outgoing president Gian Franco Kasper’s sixth term. Eliasch stepped down as CEO of the Head ski and tennis brand to fill this role. Under a new rule, he will be eligible to remain head of FIS until 2034 if he wins reelection in May 2022.
“When I was elected president, I ran on a campaign that promised change,” Eliasch said in a statement. “Today, I am proud that, together with our Member National Associations, we reached another important milestone on this common and exciting path. With the adjustments to the FIS Statutes, we now have the framework to effectively and purposefully implement our vision and our goals.”
More responsive to the modern world
The changes to the FIS’s top officials better ensure the organization can move forward with agility in the 21st century with a sustainable format that is gender-inclusive. Along with owning and operating the popular alpine skiing World Cup circuit, FIS also hosts international snowboarding, freestyle & free ski, cross-country, ski jumping, Nordic combined and related activities.
The increasing popularity of these disciplines, particularly snowboarding, and changing times necessitated a new more vision while maintaining the relevancy of the famous World Cup skiing events in Europe and the United States. The changes also bring the FIS in line with other sports’ international governing bodies like FIFA.
FIS also considered changing its name to either the International Ski and Snowboard Federation or the International Snowsports Federation. The delegates’ votes were relatively close, but neither name could secure a two-thirds majority necessary for a change.