Ted Ligety has already created a storm of controversy on the World Cup circuit by leading the revolt over coming changes in ski shape rules.
Now he’s suggesting a complete overhaul of the sport’s format, proposing a radical switch from traditional two-run races in giant slalom and slalom to five mini knockout runs, and doing away with the two-hour break in between legs.
Ligety also would like to see all of the technical races run at night to gain bigger crowds, but men’s World Cup director Gunter Hujara says the 27-year-old American needs to better understand the finances and TV contracts that determine start times.
“I’ve always believed ski racing is presented and formatted poorly,” Ligety wrote on his blog Saturday. “I can’t think of any successful sports that have a three-hour halftime and fans only see their favorite athlete twice for a max of four minutes.
“I can’t imagine going to a basketball game to watch LeBron James play for one minute then wait three hours to see him play for another minute,” the giant slalom world champion added. “It would not make sense for TV or the fans. Yet this is how a ski race is run.”
So Ligety wants to cut the field to 30 or 40 racers on a 30- to 40-second course with five runs where the field gets cut in half after every run – so it could go from 30 racers to 16, eight, four and then two finalists skiing the final run to determine the winner.
“This would create constant action and if you are say an Aksel Lund Svindal fan you can see him race several runs,” Ligety wrote.
Yet Svindal, the overall World Cup leader, isn’t convinced.
“That would be show races to me,” the Norwegian said. “Some of the stuff we do now is pretty good. ... This is what the sport lives on – legendary races like Kitzbuehel, Wengen, Alta Badia, Adelboden. Those are really great races for us. And Alpine events are popular at the Olympics, so changing it around too much, that’s a little extreme.”