FIS head laments drop in recreational skiers

Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:58pm EST
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By Steve Keating

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Sitting on a terrace on a bluebird day overlooking the Birds of Prey finish line, International Ski Federation (FIS) chief Gian Franco Kasper scanned the horizon for recreational skiers that never appear.

"Even in the cold countries like Switzerland and Austria the number of kids being involved in skiing goes down," Kasper told Reuters during a piste-side interview. "The main thing is the youth, young people, we need to bring them back into snow.

"I am not speaking about competitive skiing. We measure our success in the number of tourist skiers, that is the most important thing.

"We have had a few bad years in regards to snow so the kids they couldn't train, so they look for another sport because they like sport but there was no skiing possibilities.

"Those generations we have lost."

The alpine world championships at the posh Colorado resorts of Vail/Beaver Creek were projected to provide a $130 million two-week jolt to the local economy.

As advertised, the event delivered plenty of thrills and spills on the slopes and an adequate apres-ski buzz in Vail but for a large part was greeted with a shrug.

Vacancy signs flashed at hotels and resorts around the Vail valley while restaurant and bar staff expressed surprise at the lack of business.   Continued...

A skier makes their way down a slide at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine December 7, 2014.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder