Johan Elias showed no sign. Although that’s something important with him: pressed lips, and an icy look, he often travels cross-country. Even as Iliasek told delegates on Thursday, at the start of the 53rd Congress of the World Ski Association Fis, how pleased I was to see them all again. oh
Now the delegates had just given him his second term as FIS chief, and soon Elias recited superlatives – as if to cover up the extent of the damage he had done in the previous minutes. The Swede wrote that snow sports would lead to a “bright future”, to an era of “unlimited growth”. Voters applauded and stood. Between them, you can see many gaps in the hall: there were vacant seats for those deputies who boycotted the election of Elias, including all the important ski associations, including the German Confederation: because they felt that the procedure and the candidate were unelectable.
Elias’ approach is reminiscent of an avalanche passing through a winter resort
In this respect, the 55th Congress of the League in Milan was a worthy conclusion to a turbulent first term for the new old leader. A year ago, Ilyash became president of the most important winter sports federation. Plus an agile businessman who was supposed to restructure the somewhat rusty organization under the leadership of Gian Franco Casper. A year later, he recalled his actions of an avalanche passing through a winter resort. Insiders talk about tough behaviour, a lack of planning (which Elias rejects), expropriations, and various lawsuits soon to be heard in the courts. And now: A president who begins his now four-year term with a scanty 56 percent approval, supports only small to very small associations, which Berg mostly knows from postcards.
For two days, the delegates were working on a plan to prevent Iliash’s re-election. The only problem was that the incumbent was the only candidate. And according to the laws of FIS, whoever gets 50 percent of the valid votes is elected – a valid vote is distinguished only by the identification of the only candidate in this case. Delegates could only express their disapproval if they were able to choose between “yes” or “no”. Had the majority voted “no,” Eliash’s position would have been vacant, awaiting a special conference. However, the FIS rules of the game only provide for these election options when the plenary votes on issues of fact (when delegates on Thursday agree to change the name of the FIS to “International Ski and Snowboard Federation”).
The palace revolt was eventually caught in the jungle of the vertebrae: when Croatian Vedran Pavlik asked the delegates to sentence Ilyas to a “yes” or “no”, Stefan Nitzel, head of the Fis ceremonies, settled it. Pavlik’s protest that this is undemocratic – the negative attitude can only fade – did not impress the guards of the base. Then there was a big chair movement. All delegates who subsequently received 44 percent of the vote not cast left the room before the incumbent’s icy stare. Among them are the Austrians, the Swiss, the Germans and the Scandinavians. A massive and open breach of trust.
According to SZ information, the Germans, Austrians and Swiss are still considering a complaint about Thursday’s election, which was subsequently confirmed by the DSV. Stefan Schwarzbach, a board member of the German Ski Association, the sports fair, said an election in which delegates had only one option to cast a valid vote, namely a yes vote, was “a farce”. “According to our legal experts, this also does not comply with the Swiss law of associations”, to which FIS is subject.
National associations must agree that Fis manages all television and marketing rights – ASAP
How will this continue: the largest association in the opposition, a densely populated president who is hardly willing to compromise? When asked, Eliash answered coldly, as always: you just have to follow the laws, everyone has the right to express his opinion, and the procedure has always been “fair and transparent”. This was also, well, original. If the dissatisfied wanted to nominate an opposition candidate, they would have to do so by March 31st. Only: Elias presented his plans to the FIS Council about a week later.
National federation delegates must then agree that FIS will administer all TV broadcasting and marketing rights as quickly as possible – although according to the files and the opinion of several lawyers, these fall to the large national federations organizing the World Cup, or partner agencies . The fact that Eliash considers these contracts unfounded, which can lead to lengthy operations, recently caused the biggest dispute – and indirectly also to the fact that Christian Berzer, the head of one of these agencies, sued Elias for defamation. .
Eliash touched on this topic only on Thursday. All affected National Societies will soon be consulted, for now prior contracts apply. It was one of the many defeats the president received in Milan. A New and Controversial Alpine Format: Deferred. Fis Board, Assembly Board: Still employed by Franz Steinel, president of the German Ski Association, who, as a lawyer and expert in contracts, is said to have not made himself popular with Elias. On the other hand, the American Dexter Payne, one of Eliash’s biggest alliances, lost his seat. The council did not award the Alpine World Championships 2027 to Soldeu / Andorra, which Elias preferred, but to Switzerland, to Crans-Montana.
Incidentally, the German prosecutor Garmisch-Partenkirchen failed by one vote – who came from Steinel – to the great disappointment. In any case, experts gave the Bavarian site almost no chances against the much better network competition. One consolation was that Oberstdorf was the only applicant to take the Snowboard World Championships in 2026. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, temporarily withdrawn from all alpine racing calendars, is now represented next winter, with three men’s races. In light of the controversies in the umbrella organization, that may be more valuable than some of the World Cup commitments.