Thursday, July 31, 2008 - International Athletes
Interview with Australia's Finn Marsland

- By: FIS

The newly-elected FIS Council appointed several new Committee Chairmen in its first meeting following the FIS Congress in Cape Town (RSA). In this second part of the series, the FIS Newsflash is pleased to present the initial thoughts by two of them as they embark on their new task for the 2008-2010 period:

Finn Marsland (AUS), new Chairman of the Sub-Committee Cross-country for Lowlanders and Citizen Racers

“I didn’t go to Cape Town with the intention of becoming chairperson of the Cross-Country Sub-Committee for Lowlanders. Although Australia had sent teams to the Lowlanders competition in the 1980’s, as coach of the Australian Team since 1999 I was always more interested in taking my athletes to compete in national competitions such as Swiss Cup and Austrian Cup, and having them progress up through Continental Cup to World Cup level.

After discussions with Lowlanders committee members and with Vegard Ulvang I found there was wide support to have the committee change its focus to providing support for developing nations, rather than focusing on running an event that had been superseded by strong Continental Cup competitions and Worldloppet competitions. The Worldloppet series is now the main attraction for citizen ski racers, and the Continental Cup series around the world are perfect stepping stones for new nations to experience international competition and develop athletes to the next level.

My vision for the “Cross-Country sub-committee for development”, which is what I would like to call it, is to provide support for developing nations. The goal is to bring more countries into the FIS Cross-Country skiing family; to help them develop and promote the sport at home; and to assist athletes to progress through the various levels of competition, ultimately to World Cup level. The starting point for each nation can be quite different. Some nations have no snow and no skiing culture; some have snow but no competitions; and some have domestic ski competitions, even FIS competitions, but no athletes competing at World Cup.

The main commodity we have to offer these developing nations is information. Information on how to train; how to organise a team; how to organise ski competitions; how to enter FIS competitions. On a number of occasions on Continental Cup and at World Junior Championships I have seen coaches from new teams turn up to team captains’ meetings without confirming the entry two hours before, simply because no-one told them they needed to. Most nations are aware there are qualification standards for World Cup and World Championships, but I’m willing to bet that many athletes from developing nations do not know the new IOC participation criteria for 2010 Winter Olympics and what they need to do to qualify for Vancouver.

Initially I have three main tasks that I’d like the committee to work on.

When we have achieved these initial tasks then we can look at other strategies to develop and promote cross country skiing below World Cup level. I have some ideas already, and I’m looking forward to receiving input from other nations.

Thank you for this opportunity to outline my ideas for the committee. Don’t forget, the Australia / New Zealand Cup for Cross Country Skiing starts on 9th August and concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek in Australia on 30th August. All nations welcome!”

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