The latest class of the FIS Athletes’ Commission members were elected by the athletes at the 2017 FIS World Championships and the newly-elected commission recently held its first meeting. FIS sat down with the alpine representatives Daniela Merighetti of Italy and Hannes Reichelt of Austria to talk about their roles, which will extend through 2019.
What motivated you to join the commission in 2015 and to stand for reelection this year?
Daniela Merighetti: I decided to join the commission in 2015 because I felt like an expert with the experience I have. I started racing on the World Cup in 2000 and joined the commission with the goal to improve a number of areas in the alpine World Cup. In these two years, I have learned a lot about the FIS organization, which was very interesting. I retired from competitive skiing last year. Now, I have more time and feel I can do a great job.
Hannes Reichelt: In 2015, I decided to run for the Athletes’ Commission with the same goal as Daniela, to improve a number of items in the alpine World Cup. I realized that two years are too short of a timeframe to do so. It takes up to four to six years to really make a difference, so I put my name forward for reelection this winter.
What are your main areas of focus in alpine skiing?
HR: We are working on a number of issues including safety, the balance of races between technical and speed events, increasing prize money and marketing opportunities for athletes. Additionally, we are providing important input when rules, regulations and formats are adjusted, most recently on the new ski radius in giant slalom and the new starting order in speed events.
DM: Besides these topics, we are working on improving communication between FIS and athletes and vice-versa with our main goal to make the athletes understand FIS decisions and clarify questions and misunderstandings.
What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Athletes’ Commission?
DM: Being a member of the commission makes me very proud. I am the athletes’ voice, which is a great commitment. The atmosphere is great within the commission, and I enjoy the team. The members are very smart, and I enjoy sharing opinions with athletes of different disciplines. There are many things to learn from each other.
Hannes, besides your work in the Athletes’ Commission, what are you doing this summer to be prepared for the Olympic season?
HR: After my back surgery last fall, I have had to catch up on my physical shape, and I am using this summer to work hard and train well in order to be in the same shape as I was before.
Daniela, you retired from competitive skiing last year. What are you doing now?
DM: I was in the custom military group as an athlete, and I stayed with them when I retired. Since January this year, I have been working for the customs at my place as Secretary for a General Attorney. This is very different from what I did in the past, but I really like it and I am learning a lot. I am in a different world, and this is very challenging.
This winter, I was also a commentator for some alpine World Cup races for Eurosport Italia and worked a little for Infront Sports & Media. I tried to be a journalist, editing a magazine for them. I had a lot of fun and this gives me the opportunity to stay in the white circus and exchange opinions with the athletes, which is very important for my role in the Athletes’ Commission.
What kind of message would you like to pass on to your fellow athletes as their representative within FIS?
DM: I keep telling the athletes, “I’m your voice, and you have the great opportunity to say what you want.” Okay, we’re not here to do anything brand new, but we’re here to improve and to bring the sport to a higher level. Together we can do a lot, which alone, we can’t.
HR: In addition to what Daniela says, I would like to encourage the alpine athletes to please answer our survey, which we send them every year. If we have a response rate of 70 to 80 percent, it will give us a strong voice in the Alpine Committee discussions and ultimately, it will make it easier to bring forward proposals.
Release courtesy of FIS