VIENNA (AP) — World Cup skiing needs a qualification system like Formula One, with qualifying runs determining the starting order for the race, Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer said Friday.
“You could compete in training for who is the first to pick a start number,” the Austrian skier said.
Mayer’s proposal goes a step further than rules for downhill and super-G implemented this season. In the new system, the top 10 skiers can choose an odd start number between 1 and 19, and the skiers ranked between 11th and 20th pick an even number between 2 and 20.
The International Ski Federation has changed the old format, where the top seven were randomly given a number between 16 and 22, because it hopes TV viewers will watch longer when the best skiers are more spread out.
“It will change something, definitely,” said Mayer, who was speaking at a sponsor event. “The best racer can pick the start number he wants. I think it’s a positive development. But we should discuss a qualifying format in training.”
FIS men’s race director Markus Waldner said skiing’s governing body considered several options before deciding on the new regulation.
“The idea is to spread out the top 10 from the start list,” Waldner said. “Most of our TV viewers were starting to watch a race after the TV break, after the first 15 starters, because the top seven racers all started between 16 and 22. We would like to motivate our TV viewers to watch from the very beginning of a race.”
A winner of three World Cup races, Mayer missed most of last season after breaking two vertebrae in a downhill crash in Val Gardena, Italy. He returned to training on snow in July, and is planning a comeback at the speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Nov. 26-27.
The Austrian skipped the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden last Sunday, though he skied on the course as a forerunner, a skier doing a test run just before the race starts.