Olympic Sized Battle
Thursday, October 30, 1997

Imagine the winter Olympics without skiing. That's the new threat in the ongoing dispute between skiing's governing body and Nagano Olympic organizers.

The head of the International Ski Federation (FIS) threatened to pull skiing out of the '98 Games in Nagano, Japan, if the organizers go ahead with a plan to ban recreational skiing above a disputed downhill run, information provided by the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) said.

"We may pull out of the Games and have no skiing at all, not even jumping, not even cross country - nothing," The FIS president Marc Hodler said after arriving in Nagano for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Council, the USSA release said.

Hodler's comment apparently came after the Nagano Organizing Committee (NAOC) told IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch it was working to ban skiing in the national park above the downhill run as a way to end a dispute with the FIS over the starting height of the course, the release said.

The two bodies have been in dispute over the length of the course, which FIS says is too short, at 5,512 feet (1,680m) for years. The FIS has contended the course is not of Olympic caliber and wants to raise the start to 5,905 feet (1,800m). This would increase race times about 15 seconds.

The NAOC though has continually rejected this request as the new start would break Japanese law by being inside the national park. But, this contention has angered FIS because the land is currently accessed by the recreational skiers.

-- Sarah Love, Mountain Zone Staff

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