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Ligety, skiers upset with new rules on GS skis

By Pat Graham

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 30 2011 8:06 p.m. MST

Ted Ligety holds up the Overall Giant Slalom World Cup he won Friday at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski Men's Giant Slalom. on March 18, 2011 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Park City native Ted Ligety has been brazenly bashing skiing's governing body for what he feels is an infringement on his livelihood.

The Olympic gold medalist is quite perturbed at the International Ski Federation over new equipment regulations set to be implemented next season.

His main discipline, the giant slalom, could be the most affected as the hourglass shape of the skis is altered in an attempt to make the sport safer.

Ligety is frustrated and furious over the move, saying it will ruin the giant slalom.

And the three-time overall GS champion is hardly alone. Many of the skiers on the World Cup circuit are less than thrilled with the rule changes, which they feel were pushed through without much input from them.

Bode Miller is so agitated with the adjustments that he's contemplating giving up World Cup skiing.

No, really. He's that serious about how much this modification to the skis will transform his sport.

"If it's not fun for me, I'm not going to ski," Miller said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "I've skied on the (new) skis and they're not very fun to ski on. So if it's not fun, then there's no reason for me to do it."

These days, Ligety's tongue has been just as sharp as his skis.

His main beef is that with the minimum radius of GS skis going to 35 meters — eight more than the current limit — it's going to set back skiing.

Not just a little, but by decades.

In addition, Ligety contends the racing in giant slalom will be far less fun to watch, since skiers have to skid into turns instead of gracefully arc into them. He compared the switch in skis to trading in a Ferrari for a Prius.

"A Prius stinks to drive after driving a Ferrari. It's a big step down," said Ligety, who finished 29th in a downhill training run Wednesday. "It's such a ridiculous rule change that makes no sense safety-wise or evolution of the sport-wise. It can't go through."

But it can — and will.

FIS men's race director Guenter Hujara understands Ligety's displeasure, but the rules are set in stone by the council. Hujara acknowledged he would be upset, too, if he were Ligety, because Ligety has dominated the giant slalom in recent seasons. This takes away some of Ligety's built-in advantage.

That said, Hujara wishes Ligety would tone it down.

"I think he should take the knife out a little bit," Hujara said. "Not everybody who has a FIS sign on his head is an idiot by birth."

Ligety recently stirred the pot even more with an entry on his blog titled the "Tyranny of FIS." He said the governing body "is going out of their way to ruin the sport. FIS runs a dictatorship."

It's just Ligety speaking his mind.

"I'm living my life as if this (rule change) is not on the horizon," Ligety said.

To help facilitate that, he's rounding up as many skiers as he can to fight the rules, which also marginally affects downhill and super-G events as well as all skis become longer.

Ligety said a union of skiers is in the works and that he wouldn't mind starting an alternate tour even though it's really not feasible.

"The one unfortunate card FIS has on us, and really why they can pull whatever they want to pull on us, is they have the Olympics," Ligety said. "In order to go to the Olympics, you have to race World Cup."

At 37 years old, Didier Cuche of Switzerland is one of veterans on the slopes. He knows what these GS skis FIS is proposing are like and really doesn't want to go back to them.

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