CANDIDATE FOR FIS PRESIDENT
As an Olympian, and as a global sports leader, it has been an honour to have served FIS - the world’s largest winter sports governing body - for twenty-seven years, twenty of these as Secretary General.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Johan Eliasch, the newly elected FIS President and Council Members in this new era of global sports.
I would also like to thank the National Associations, my colleagues at FIS headquarters, and the global snow sport community for our exciting collaboration over the years.
I have always made it my mission to understand our global landscape.
Now, as I pursue several exciting projects in global sport, I will continue to do just this - watch this space!
Sarah Lewis OBE OLY Global Sports Leader
#making the world a better place through the power of sport
#sportforall #safeguarding #sustainability #sport&education #sportstechnology
CANDIDATE FOR FIS PRESIDENT
We are entering a new era for FIS and global sport.
An era that requires FIS to tackle its role in a changed and more inclusive society.
An era that sees FIS grow new wings, expand to new territories and attract new audiences.
An era that requires FIS to fully leverage revenue opportunities, digitally transform, collaborate with expert minds and secure new funding while being 100% athlete-centred.
And all this in an era of a global pandemic.
We have been presented with a unique opportunity - to elect a 21st century President whose full focus is to lead FIS on a strategic transformation to the summit of international sport.
I have devoted my life to our sport as an Olympian, as FIS Secretary General and as a leader in global sport.
Now, in this new era of FIS, I submit my candidacy to serve you as President.
My vision is for us to transform FIS to become a global movement for World Skiing and Snowboarding. This vision is the foundation of my FIS Piste Map - a strategic plan for us to take FIS into an exciting future.
FIS will become a modern, versatile and diverse organisation.
National Associations will be fully integrated in the governance of FIS. Together we will achieve more.
FIS will undergo a digital transformation to strengthen its commercial potential, and harness innovations to showcase outstanding athletes and iconic competition venues to excite fans and inspire young people and new participants around the world to ski, snowboard and be part of our sport.
Through growing our global reach, FIS will leverage untapped revenue opportunities to fund the sport and growth of the organisation and support the National Associations grow too.
FIS will future proof through building symbiotic relationships with snow sport tourism and focusing on youth development, education, creating social and environmental legacies, along with growing involvement with the wider ski and snow sports federations and bodies.
FIS will protect its community against the effects of the pandemic and implement a Covid Recovery Fund and measures to assist the recovery.
This is an exciting time for FIS and an opportunity for us to work together to define our future, moving ahead with a crystal clear FIS Piste Map for our sport and our athletes.
The FIS Piste Map reflects opportunities to transform FIS from its current position to become a global movement for World Skiing and Snowboarding.
Investments in our development for the benefit of our sport and our athletes have to be realistic, achievable and appropriately financed.
I am confident that we can achieve many of the ambitions in the FIS Piste Map by implementing efficiencies to maximise resources, working more closely with our existing and engaging new partners to grow our commercial revenues, and by creating new roles within FIS such as to support the digital transformation to move to the next level.
These are unquestionably challenging times for us all and managing the effects of the pandemic requires proactive measures.
Establishing a Covid Recovery Fund in 2021 and 2022 to assist the National Associations with their recovery from the effects of the pandemic will be an immediate priority.
FIS PISTE MAP
THE BLUEPRINT FOR OUR FUTURE
The FIS Piste Map is the blueprint for the future of our organisation and a framework to create an exciting and rock solid present and future for our sport and athletes, upholding the highest standards of inclusive and transparent governance.
I pledge to work with and on behalf of every FIS member National Association to deliver a FIS Piste Map that will evolve us into a global movement for world skiing and snowboarding.
You know me for my energy and drive. You know me for my deep knowledge and experience working with you, the National Ski Associations and Stakeholders in our sport, alongside the
Olympic Committee and Olympic Family, the Associations and governmental institutions pivotal to our existence, and my life-long commitment to our sport.
You know me for my dedication, which has always been in the best interests of our sport.
You can count on me - I believe we can make a real difference together to create a better future, defining our pathway ahead together and making this happen.
FIS has considerable untapped potential for revenue growth across its disciplines, with its unique range that appeals to diverse interest and participation groups. Now is the time for FIS, the National Associations and rights holders to review opportunities - here is a snapshot:
EMERGING WINTER SPORT ECONOMIES
NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
VISIONARY ADVISORY GROUP
FIS has relied on outstanding loyal long-term partnerships for many decades. The key to future stability and growth is to support these relationships and secure partnerships across the disciplines that have a profoundly positive effect on our sport and our athletes.
Developing our sport digitally is vital for unlocking opportunities for growth through commercial activities with partners who see the wide spectrum of FIS disciplines as open to innovation.
Leveraging digital media by partnering with rights holders and broadcasters to master content across multiple channels, massively expanding exposure and building connections with fans is key.
Driving stronger fan experiences with new and immersive technology, such as augmented and virtual reality, and effective use of the latest social media and audio-based platforms to create intensely exciting engagement experiences, would really take our disciplines to the next level, as well as drive loyalty and fan relationships.
By expanding eSports across the FIS disciplines, we will connect with new and different audiences, growing our community and integrating partners with a rapid growth market that has accelerated hugely during the pandemic.
We have many outstanding athletes and former legends, who are keen to be involved as well as give back to the sport they love through promotional activities, events and in the media.
FIS could be leveraging a wide range of opportunities - from guest appearances at key events, to live debates on the future of our sport, to sponsor-related athlete ambassador initiatives, to helping our athletes from developing National Associations, championing a whole range of areas from sports psychology to physical training to anti-doping and safeguarding athletes - really throwing the media and fan spotlight on our athletes.
Involving the many well-known personalities and leaders of industry who are skiers further expands our presence more widely throughout society by featuring not only on sports pages, but in lifestyle media and on other mainstream media platforms.
Viewing habits have changed and these have been accelerated as a result of the pandemic. By further harnessing the power of data in its storytelling, FIS can give a real showcase for snow sports innovation and athlete performance.
Future fans of snow sports will be attracted by our use of impressive sport-specific metrics, such as the athletes’ efficient use of potential energy, ability to minimise friction and aerodynamic drag, maintaining speeds, choosing the optimal trajectory, competition tactics, specialist equipment and its technology, along with course insights.
Increasing the visibility and thereby the status of the sport will elevate the value of FIS commercial rights which is key for all our flagship events, including the World Cups and Championships, as well as elevating the promotion of Classics Events to increase their global iconic status.
It is time to adapt the commercial model specific to the sport, its culture and the athletes.
For example in Snowboard, Freestyle and FreeSki there are many high profile stars and these sports can best evolve through partnerships with action sport specialists to grow a new model together. Each FIS discipline offers a huge opportunity.
A new FIS Licensing Programme for relevant winter sport industry products and services could provide an important revenue stream to support our National Associations and athlete-centred strategies and further extend our sport’s visibility and connection with stakeholders in the sport.
Harnessing the significantly increased interest of emerging winter sport economies, such as the Chinese winter sports industry where the ski resorts have just experienced an excellent 2020-21 season, presents another opportunity to broaden the revenue base from its traditional roots.
The private equity investment model, implemented by a number of international sports federations, represents another potential opportunity for FIS with the National Associations organising top level events to bring in new resources to help grow our sport - working with a true partner who is looking to invest in growing the commercial value as well as the assets for the benefit of our sport.
Support and insights from a newly created Visionary Advisory Group, comprising highly experienced leaders from the media, digital, commercial, marketing, sports business, winter sport tourism and snow sport industries, would benefit us - the group would contribute to the FIS decision-making bodies in an advisory capacity on overall marketing, media and commercial strategies to help accelerate the power of our sport’s revenue streams.
Leading global figures with successful track records and extensive networks are ready to contribute to the Visionary Advisory Group.
FIS has achieved many milestones since it was established at the heart of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924.
We are now the beacon for winter sports after reaching our biggest milestone in Olympic history with six of the 15 disciplines and 55 of the 109 events on the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games programme dedicated to the disciplines governed by FIS.
Leading with authority and integrity into 2021 and beyond into the second centennial, with a renewed structure, inclusiveness throughout all levels of the organisation, transparency, and a responsible financial approach to ensure an equitable system that encourages, rewards and supports activity, FIS would better serve its members and operate more effectively.
Here are a number of key areas to be considered together with the National Associations, as part of the FIS Piste Map strategic plan:
INCREASE GENDER DIVERSITY
MOVEMENT & KEY ORGANISATIONS
COUNCIL & COMMITTEE EXPERTISE
PRIORITISE ATHLETE WELFARE
DEVELOP MARC HODLER FOUNDATION
INDEPENDENT INTEGRITY OVERSIGHT
2021 will see FIS elect its first President of the 21st century, and the fifth President since FIS was established 97 years ago.
As part of a package of governance reforms at FIS, this is the time to assess the appropriateness for term limits of the FIS President and FIS Council Members with a view to introducing a limit of three election terms.
This would comply with the recommendation of the IF Governance Review, adopted by the IOC and most leading International Federations, and thereby strengthens the democratic process at FIS to enable it to stay nimble in the fast moving world of sport.
The tremendous experience of long-serving officials would importantly be retained in the system, as mentors to their successors and next generation, as well as serving as part of specific advisory commissions.
The introduction of a Remunerations Commission to determine compensation levels of the FIS President, Leadership and Management would serve to provide transparent information to our National Associations and stakeholders about the use of resources - this is another important point highlighted in the IF Governance Review.
I will renounce on a presidential salary, both on the basis of my personal belief that the elected President representing its members should serve the sport, but also to enable extra resources to be redirected into supporting other areas of the organisation, such as the National Ski Association’s current financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, and other areas to strengthen the organisation.
The FIS disciplines are relatively gender balanced and there are now female athletes participating in all disciplines. The leading athletes enjoy a similar media profile as their male counterparts, which is a perfect position to be in as the world's biggest brands and sports organisations champion women in global sport. By continuing to improve the diversity of our sport participation, and building more platforms for our female athletes as role models, we can perpetuate this diversity for generations to come.
There are no barriers for participating in sport, and this must also be true for its governance. Quoting UN Women: “Leaders need to represent the people they serve to best understand their wants and needs.” At FIS however there is no doubt about it - we stand out among International Federations currently with an all-male Council, excepting one of the Athletes Commission representatives being female. The status in our National Associations is also far from balanced with a small minority pioneers having female Presidents, while the majority are vastly under-represented in their Executive Boards too.
Advancing diversity proactive measures within the FIS leadership structures is vital for our future, and with talented female executives and officials already in our world of snow sports and rapidly emerging, we have the opportunity to change this.
An option to accelerate this process immediately would be to enable our leading National Associations to submit a candidate of each gender for the Council - sharing one vote.
“If you can see it, you can be it”: identifying committee chairs, members, officials and athletes to mentor and coach for future roles is also vital.
Reviewing the entire FIS governance structure against the IF Governance Review 2020 report to align financial support with fulfilling governance requirements would ensure that FIS conforms with best practice.
Appointing independent members from the wider international sports governance community to the FIS Ethics Commission would also demonstrate good governance to outside scrutiny.
Just like elite sport, the administration of FIS and its support of the membership requires the best available talent, with back-up structures and professional development coaching, to ensure FIS can continually evolve to meet increasing demands. Specifics include media training and crisis management, division of responsibilities and collaboration between the elected leadership and professional staff.
The credibility of FIS as the leader in global winter sports governance is of the utmost importance.
FIS requires a strong presence at the highest levels with the International Olympic Committee. Nurturing relationships with the Olympic Games Organising Committees, National Olympic Committees and the Association of National Olympic Committees is equally important.
Over the last 26 years at FIS, I have built strong working relationships with the IOC, its Leadership and throughout the Olympic Movement, and all major institutions in our sport including AIOWF: the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, GAISF: the Global Association of International Sports Federations and SportAccord.
Nurturing relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency, Court for Arbitration in Sport, United Nations Sport for Climate Action, European Commission and the wider governmental and non-governmental organisations is also an important task.
With my in-depth knowledge and experience I can ensure we continue to grow key relationships from day 1 as FIS President.
FIS also needs to continue to take its rightful place as a leader in global sport at the heart of the major sports discussions by participating in select prominent sports business, influential conferences, events and networking opportunities
There is a wealth of expertise in the FIS Council and within the FIS Committees. Integrating this know-how into key functions at FIS, for example by defining the roles for FIS Council Members such as discipline oversight, marketing, commercial, legal, governance, special projects would be valuable. Reviewing the Committees to ensure we have the appropriate bodies to cover present and future areas of the sport and development.
Increasing the regularity of FIS Council interaction, from the current two meetings per year and one biannual gathering, to minimum quarterly official meetings, as a mix of in-person and online for convenience and cost reasons would also enhance the governance of FIS. Implementing regular management reporting to the Council and the Membership will optimise the alignment too.
FIS already has a successful Athletes Commission elected by the Athletes for the Athletes.
Now, in line with the representation of athletes in our sport, establishing Athletes Commissions in each of our disciplines comprising diverse representation from each individual event in both genders will further involve our athletes in the accountability and governance of their sport.
The Committees and FIS Officials would thereby have an elected athlete representative as a liaison who is discipline and event specific.
The role and involvement of the Organisers is a fundamental aspect of the sport and organisation. There are many outstanding Organising Committees across all nations and their role has significantly evolved with all World Cup Organisers employing professional specialists to carry out events, carrying high liability and financial responsibilities. Their voices at the decision-making table with the National Associations and FIS are essential.
The snow sports industry plays a significant role, investing in the sport in support of the athletes and teams. The long-term commitment of the industry has been especially underlined this season, during a period when businesses have been devastated. The industry’s integration in the discussions about the sport is a must.
The health and welfare of our athletes during and post-career is paramount.
Working in tandem with National Associations, the necessity for a FIS Medical Director should be assessed - focusing on injury prevention, wider medical conditions, mental health and overseeing the medical aspects of managing the pandemic adaptation.
FIS can also contribute to enhance the prospects of athletes careers after retirement, through education programmes, including digital coaching, training and interactive learning alongside establishing a career pathway in the ski industry and tourism, utilising the FIS Academy to facilitate programmes.
An internship programme at FIS and in partnership with leading National Associations, the ski and tourism industry and other stakeholders will give valuable work experience to athletes we can keep in the sport for their post-athlete careers.
Appointing a Sustainability Committee to implement the Mainau Manifesto 2.0 and UN Sport for Climate Action objectives, while collaborating with experts and winter sports to address the challenges including tackling climate change is a must to protect the present and future of snow sports and the global populations who call the mountains home.
The expertise is ready and at our disposal to support and guide FIS in this crucial area, to ensure sustainability is anchored through all areas and layers of FIS.
Focusing on sustainability is key for our future and has an important ripple effect, including with sponsorship partners who want to know that they are working with an organisation that takes this seriously and is implementing sustainability in a tangible way.
Appointing FIS Athlete Sustainability Ambassadors in each of the FIS disciplines as global snow sport tackles sustainability and environment challenges makes total sense - our athletes are in a perfect position to engage, inspire and be the voice, sharing views with FIS and National Associations for change.
The Marc Hodler Foundation can serve as an important cornerstone of the organisation by better activating the Foundation’s mission more effectively to “promote globally through cultural, science and other activities connected to snow sports”. In so doing we can enable FIS to focus on its core objectives of organising competitions and developing the sport.
Opportunities to develop through the Foundation alongside the social responsibility actions of the organisation by engaging with our athletes in special need, such as those who are severely injured, suffering from serious illness or hardship, include creating a platform to recognise former athletes and sports contributors - the FIS Legends.
Introducing a fundraising dimension to the Foundation through a specialist in philanthropy to sustain the activities, while complying with its non-profit mission, could also be considered.
FIS has already appointed the Court of Arbitration for Sport Anti-Doping Division to carry out adjudication of doping cases at the first instance level, Global Sports Investigations to handle ethical matters and the appointment of an Integrity Manager. The next evolution to ensure independent scrutiny of process with FIS governance would be to consider further steps, which may include further outsourcing of anti-doping control to the Independent Testing Agency.
The separation of responsibilities between Ethical and Integrity governance, and the Commercial side of the organisation is an important aspect of sound best-practice governance, so there is no undue or perceived influence of commercial aspects on integrity decisions.
SNOWSPORT 2021 &
Sports around the world have been hit hard by the pandemic, and this is continuing in 2021 with the entire snow sport ecosystem no exception.
Many countries were prevented from opening their resorts for tourism and non-elite sport the entire season.
Addressing the needs of the National Associations and their Organisers who have suffered immensely during the pandemic will be a key and immediate priority, while keeping a firm eye on addressing the future evolution of our sport.
SPORT AT THE CENTRE
WINTER SPORT TOURISM PARTNERSHIP
EVOLVE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
DEVELOPING NATIONS FOCUS
& EDUCATION PROGRAMMES
TOURISM & YOUTH ENGAGEMENT
STRONG LEGACY PROJECTS
MORE SNOW SPORTS
Reviewing the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of each of our disciplines is central to ensuring our sport is optimised for the future. This requires a 360 approach involving all the stakeholders and having courage to address hot topics too.
Creating new partnerships is central to growth, such as the tremendous opportunities to deepen relations and activities jointly with the winter tourism industry, along with focusing on promotional opportunities, connecting recreational skiers to FIS, environmental and legacy projects, youth engagement initiatives and diversity and social responsibility calls to action that make a difference for the entire snow sports ecosystem.
Working hand in hand with every developing National Association, we will jointly assess their specific individual challenges, objectives and current national support levels, and address how FIS can better support their progress. In addition to implementing effective programmes and activities through the FIS Development Programme, personalised solutions such as mentoring, coach placement schemes and a scholarship programme with established ski academies can support further development.
Evolving the FIS Development Programme through online learning programmes and courses, expanding specialist seminars, coaching workshops and programmes will also be an important part of assisting the developing nations. In addition, by collaborating with established National Association coach education systems, creating an International Coaching Programme tailored specifically for the Developing Nations will greatly enhance access to coach education.
Establishing the FIS disciplines as leading winter sports in more countries is one way of boosting growth, but first we need to support the evolution of our existing developing National Associations.
By assisting with raising their profile at home with their sports ministries, National Olympic Committees and national authorities, FIS can endorse snow sports and their role to create strong national backing.
Potential opportunities to showcase the achievements of the developing nations, such as defining the qualification races as World Championship Challenger competitions thereby raising the status of the competitions would further support their recognition. Similarly re-positioning the regional Continental Cup Series as the World Cup Challengers Tour will assist in building up the status of the sport in the eyes of their national authorities and showcase the achievements of the athletes when they finish high up the results list, which is presently difficult at World Championship and World Cup level.
Opportunities for athletes from developing nations could be greatly enhanced by collaborating further with the global National Ski Academy network, by facilitating placements and scholarship programmes along with online learning, specialist seminars, coaching workshops, mentoring with experienced nations to increase the knowledge growth of the developing nations.
Skiing, snow sports competition and winter tourism have a symbiotic relationship. This is an aspect of our sport which is relatively unique compared to most sports and provides the biggest potential catalyst to a really significant expansion of the sport and industry by working hand in hand.
Snow tourism is also key to motivating children and young adults to participate - these are our future athletes, as well as customers for the industry and fans.
The indoor snow centres that have been increasingly built in a number of countries during the past 20 years have introduced many new participants to snow sports who do not live in close proximity to the mountains. Many of our champions and athletes have also begun their careers in local and year-round snow and dry slope centres. These facilities will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future.
By working closely together with everyone in the snow sport industry we can address joint challenges and create opportunities to expand our sport and the industry - organising a biannual Global Snow Forum connected to the spring FIS Calendar Conference or autumn Technical Meeting Gathering would be extremely beneficial to us all.
Building legacies to support the communities where FIS events are staged is crucial.
Where better to start than the World Championships which present a true legacy for the community to combine sport, with the local economy, communities, social, cultural and the environmental aspects.
By engaging with social responsibility partners connected to snow sport, FIS can assist in supporting humanitarian programmes in mountain regions around the world, as well as in partnership with important global organisations such as the Special Olympics.
Interacting with other exciting snow sports, such as Ski Mountaineering, Freeride and increasing collaboration with Para Snow Sports, we can further promote the countless opportunities to experience and enjoy all forms of snow sport accessible for everyone.
FIS SECRETARY GENERAL
IOC PROGRAMME COMMISSION
I was honoured to be awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to skiing by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in May 2018.
Following my retirement and working across the ski industry and media, I spent nearly four years as Alpine Director of the National Ski Association of Great Britain, including as Team Manager and Director at the Albertville ’92 and Lillehammer ’94 Games & World Championships in ’91 and ‘93. In 1994 I took up a new role at FIS of Continental Cup Coordinator.
After two years as FIS Director, in 2000, the Council appointed me as Secretary General, a role I served for more than 20 years.
I consider myself truly privileged to have spent the last 27 years of my career living in the heart of the Alps and the ski world, less than ten minutes from FIS Headquarters.
During this period FIS has grown its membership to 135 National Ski Associations, with more than half of these countries organising FIS competitions, and heading to Beijing 2022 with the FIS disciplines representing more than half of the Games programme.
I have taken every opportunity to promote FIS and snow sport, including as a Member of the IOC Programme Commission, serving on three Olympic Winter Games Coordination Commissions (2018, 2022 & 2026) and the Youth Olympic Games (2020 & 2024), and overseen the FIS activities at five Olympic Winter Games.
I have made it my mission to understand the global landscape of our National Associations, I was myself Alpine Director of the British Ski before joining FIS where a fundamental part of my role was regularly communicating, meeting face-to-face and actively participating in competitions and events around the world visiting activities in 59 member nations over the years.
I have secured many opportunities to maintain the profile of FIS as a leader in international sport, serving as Secretary General of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federation (AIOWF), in 2000-2002 & 2014-2020, as AIOWF Delegate in the SportAccord Convention Steering Group from its foundation in 2002-2020, and as Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Observers at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
During the past six months, I have taken the time to think deeply about what matters to me, and prepare for the future.
I have gone back to school to undertake the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Business School Inspirational Leadership programme. Additionally, I have conducted extensive research across the sport ecosystem to create the FIS Piste Map and further expanded my wide high-level network across the sports industry and winter sport tourism. For the last six months I have also been serving as Lead Mentor for the first global winter sport innovations start-up accelerator, establishing highest level connections across the digital, innovations, commercial and private equity communities.
Consequently, I am even more equipped for the challenges of serving as President, to provide leadership, support and direction.
What won’t change from the Sarah you know is my total commitment to the organisation and permanent accessibility and responsiveness to everyone - membership and staff.
Now I am ready and completely prepared, working together hand in hand with the National Ski Associations and Stakeholders, for us to lead the world’s largest winter sports governing body to its full potential and rightful place, as your President.
Together we can achieve more.
and Social Media
Peter Hutton, Director Sports Partnerships, Facebook (UK / USA / Global)
“Sarah has impressed me for years by her willingness to listen, learn and lead.
She understands that innovation is central to growing sport and I am confident in her ability to lead the organisation into a new era.”
Richard “Dick” Pound, CC, OQ, CD, QC (Canada / International)
“I was delighted to learn that you are a candidate for the FIS presidency and I wish you the best of success.
As we know, International Federations are generally change-resistant, especially with respect to leadership and yours, to date, for some 90 years, has been a textbook case.
In a sport that has welcomed a healthy balance of gender participation on the field of play, an unbroken record of male leadership, plus aggressive campaigning to extend that state of affairs speaks poorly for the kind of diversity you would bring to the position, not to mention the collaborative leadership you have been able to generate in your position as Secretary-General.
In these difficult times for good governance in sport organizations, we are seeing, all around us, many disastrous outcomes of failure to adjust to modern standards. We need leaders who present themselves for the right reasons, with the right programmes, the right standards, who can achieve the best for their sports and not for personal self-aggrandisement. It is disappointing to see ongoing willingness to sacrifice sport values for personal gratification.
In post-Covid times, organizations and institutions which consider financial and other support for sport will, increasingly, be looking for demonstrable commitment to the kind of social values you would bring to FIS. I hope the members understand the importance of demonstrating such values, not just talking about them.
I am proud to applaud all of the great qualities you would bring to the position.”
Bruno Cercley, former President & CEO (2008-2021) of Rossignol Group (France / International)
“Over the last 13 years as President & CEO of Rossignol Group, I have continuously followed the path Rossignol has taken, successfully, for decades: invest in junior athletes and clubs globally, play a major role in the international and national competition circuits around the world, attracting young people and communities to participate in our sport.
Despite our efforts, and those of our global snow sport community, we are all facing many challenges - our sport participation is not growing, exposure of our sport is not strong, we rely on live events to project the emotion and excitement of our sport, and our televised product is boring.
We need a new approach, to create strong stories and events - every weekend should be an incredible chapter of a thriller.
We need to be more digital, reaching children and young people and entire communities online. We need to engage with the leading snow nations and connect with emerging markets - these are our new generation.
We need to get skiing back to centre stage and we don’t need the same old recipes: now is the time for game changers.
This is not just about turning the table upside down - this is about moving to a new era, about managing this needed change, with the highest respect to everyone.
We need a team approach, with a leader who is willing to align all forces to create the dynamic we need.
Sarah is by far the best person to lead skiing back to being a top sport worldwide and I fully support her. She knows perfectly the machinery and she understands the stakeholders.
She has the respect, engages with the whole community, has the biggest will to coordinate this approach, and understands the new approaches we need to take to really boost interest in our sport and participation.
She is also a strong, neutral leader and can work closely with all parties, nations, athletes and suppliers to ensure solid control of an agreed plan and execution.
Sarah is the one."
James Worrall, Founder and Chair, Leaders In Sport (UK / International)
“I have known Sarah since the launch of Leaders in Sport in 2007 and have no hesitation endorsing her candidacy for the President of the FIS.
She is a true leader and visionary, with an outstanding reputation and unrivalled connections around the world of sport, from teams, leagues and federations all the way through to brands, suppliers and the media.
What marks her out for me is her desire to continuously learn, her energy, authenticity and her desire to make a difference to the sport and community she is so passionate about.
Sarah carries her values with her wherever she goes, and actively promotes diversity, inclusion, fairness of competition and sustainability - all of which are essential for a leader of any progressive International Federation.
I know the sport will be better with Sarah at the helm and I fully support her candidacy for President."
Joël Bouzou OLY, President, World Olympians Association
and President and Founder of Peace and Sport (Monaco / International)
“I have known Sarah Lewis OLY for many years as a sport administrator and as an Olympian. Sarah was the first one to fill in our survey on post career health because by experience she places the well-being of the athletes first.
I am convinced that the skills she inherited from her journey as an Olympian, dedication, honesty, hard working, straightforwardness and embracing all cultures would help her to become a great leader, should she succeed in her candidacy to the FIS Presidency.”
Ciaran Quinn, Founder VEO2, Advisor, Director, Mentor, Investor,
U.C. Berkeley SkyDeck Ambassador (USA / France)
“In my decades working in sport it’s been rare to come across a Sport Federation leader as focused, experienced, committed, dedicated and caring as Sarah.
I had the pleasure of getting to know her during her long and successful tenure as General Secretary at FIS.
Sarah can be clear and direct, which is a huge personal asset in that you know where she stands and where you stand.
As a result not only can you work better and smarter, but also she achieves better results for her organization.
I support her in her candidacy to lead what I expect to be a new, vibrant FIS based on the vision she lays out on her website sarah-lewis.com.”
Signe Reisch, President of Museum Kitzbühel Support Association and former President of Kitzbühel Tourism (Austria)
“Knowing Sarah for over 20 years, I am always impressed by her immediate actions when asking for her assistance.
Reliable, passionate and innovative, that is how I see her and that is how I would describe my relationship with her.
The future will bring many new challenges for our sports! Sarah is the person to continue its successful path and will be a great leader to the FIS family as well as the entire skiing community.”
Camilla Sylling Clausen, CEO of Norske alpinanlegg og fjelldestinasjoner
(Norwegian ski lift and mountain resorts association)
“My personal experience is that Sarah Lewis actively implements and promotes the vision and values of integrity and diversity throughout the snow sport community at all levels - from volunteers, to competition organisers, from the athletes, to the global brands supporting our events and initiatives, and to the ski tourism organisations that underpin our world of sport and recreation.
She fully understands and promotes the connection with winter sports tourism and the importance of using competition sport as a vehicle to promote the sport and travel, as well as boosting on-snow active participation. This is all so important for my work in Norwegian ski resorts and all mountain destinations for the future.
I am sure that as President of FIS Sarah can continue to contribute even more in the future to participation in winter activities and tourism.
I also personally think that it is high time that the diversity of winter sports is reflected in the FIS leadership - as a woman in the snow world, where sport, tourism and recreation come together so naturally, it is vital that the world’s biggest winter sports governing body steps up and fully represents the community.”
Simon Clegg CBE, previous British Olympic Association CEO, London 2012 Bid & Organising Committee Board Director and Chief Operating Officer of inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan (UK / International)
“I have known Sarah Lewis since the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, where she was an alpine skiing competitor and I was a team official having previously worked within the British Ski Federation.
Over that time our paths have crossed on a very regular basis and I have watched her career develop within the industry of the sport she so loves, into FIS and ultimately to the top professional position within the sport. I have witnessed with admiration the esteem and respect that she holds not just across the other Olympic winter sports but across the entire Olympic movement from Presidents down to more junior ranking Olympic officials and indeed volunteers.
FIS is facing an incredibly important decision after the 23 years of Gian-Franco Kasper's leadership. The new President will require strong vision and leadership to not only build on the existing strong foundations but to set FIS on a new course; one which ensures it becomes more commercially secure, more relevant to its member associations and more integrated with its wider stakeholders. I have absolutely no doubt that Sarah has the necessary skill set, drive, empathy, passion, commitment and most importantly experience to deliver these worthy objectives. Her commitment to introducing new transparent governance within FIS and her collaborative style will deliver a much more fit for purpose organisation.
This election should not be about gender or athletic credentials but about electing a leader who can transition FIS into a modern day international federation thereby enhancing its position within the Olympic movement and society as a whole. I have absolutely no doubt that in Sarah Lewis FIS has a Presidential candidate who can unite the membership and lead its member associations to a bright, exciting and secure future.
Claude Ruibal, Managing Director, Ubiquity Sports (USA / Switzerland)
"It has never been business as usual with Sarah Lewis.
She is a gifted and visionary leader with an entrepreneurial touch who has consistently worked to transform sport to deliver ever increasing value for fans, athletes, sponsors, event organisers and distributors.
She has always pushed herself and those around her to deliver the highest results in seeking to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.
At a time when sport is being confronted with massive change, Sarah’s inclusive, authentic and passionate approach to life, combined with a global mindset and constant curiosity about the next new thing, positions her perfectly to lead the FIS for the next generation."
Sree Varma, Founder & CEO, iSportConnect (UK / International)
"Sarah’s leadership skills are phenomenal and her vision of fostering innovations within the sports industry is impeccable. In my dealings with her, I found her to be astute and determined in her personality which makes her an excellent candidate for any position."
Liz Nicholl CBE, President, International Netball Federation (UK / International)
“I am writing as the International Netball Federation President to add my support for Sarah's candidacy for the role of FIS President.
Sarah and I first met when I was in a senior UK role for 20 years until 2019 and when Sarah was one of the very few women from the UK holding a significant leadership role in international sport. Sarah was asked on several occasions to share her experience with others from the UK who aspired to be able to make a positive contribution to the work of their International Federations.
She did so willingly and impressively and I was struck by Sarah’s energy and passion for her sport and her direct and clear communication style. While supporting the development of others, Sarah demonstrated sensitivity and integrity and grasped the opportunity to share her experience while promoting all that is good about FIS. I saw then that Sarah is a leader who has a global perspective, is experienced, knowledgeable, determined, committed and courageous.
Our paths have since crossed in my role as an IF President, most memorably at the 2019 IF Forum in Lausanne. Once again Sarah was a speaker on a Panel sharing experience with others …this time on athlete representation. Sarah was an excellent ambassador for FIS and is respected internationally. I have no doubt that she is a very credible candidate for the role of President.”
Bob Wheaton, Senior Strategic Advisor Alterra Mountain Company and former President and Chief Operating Officer of Deer Valley Resort, Utah (USA)
“I have had the honor and privilege of being involved with the FIS for well over 20 years in my tenure at Deer Valley resort in Park City, Utah.
During that time I have had the opportunity to work with Sarah Lewis on a number of different fronts. Whether the discussions were specific venue negotiations, technical issues regarding sport or overall perception of the FIS on the worldwide platform, Sarah has consistently displayed a deep understanding of the issues while still being able to grasp the effects on the overall health and well being of the staff, NGBs, athletes and the organization as a whole.
Watching her abilities to navigate the environment of multiple organizations with sometimes very different agendas attempting to come together for a common resolution has been nothing short of admirable.
She consistently produced results that demonstrated a high level of respect for her by all involved, and even when there was a difference of opinion from participants, when discussions concluded there was a clear direction and plan to move forward.
Suffice it to say that Sarah Lewis has my highest endorsement in her candidacy for the office of President of the FIS.”
Sabrina Ibáñez, Chair of the ASOIF Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group (International)
“For the sports world to enjoy long term growth and success, there is a real need for more diversity at leadership levels of International Federations.
“Balanced representation is crucial to all sports organisations at all levels, which is why I am very pleased to see more women candidacies - such as Sarah Lewis’ - for the role of President of an International Federation.
Luke Bodensteiner, Chief of Sport Development/General Manager Utah Olympic Legacy (USA)
As Secretary General of FIS, Sarah has been a driving force behind the innovation and expansion of FIS over the past 20 years. Within an organization known for tradition and status quo, she skillfully led the expansion of skiing and snowboarding events and disciplines within the Olympics, greatly expanding FIS’ organization, reach and profile, and transforming the organization to what it is today. In my experience working with her on many of these initiatives, I always found her to be open, creative, energetic and determined in growing the impact of FIS. This evolution has allowed many more national ski associations to have a meaningful seat at the table and has vastly expanded their opportunities. This transformation has also benefitted thousands of athletes by giving them a pathway to participate that reflects the most modern aspects of the sport.
Her efforts to modernize the governance of FIS, often despite the organization’s resistance to change, have also been well recognized and have laid the foundation for a further transformation. On issues like diversity, representation and gender equity in governance, this election is a unique opportunity for FIS to put a stake in the ground and truly commit to walking the talk.
As an Olympian, and as a global sports leader, it has been an honour to have served FIS - the world’s largest winter sports governing body - for twenty four years, twenty of these as Secretary General.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Johan Eliasch, the newly elected FIS President and Council Members in this new era of global sports.
I would also like to thank the National Associations, my colleagues at FIS headquarters, and the global snow sport community for our exciting collaborations over the years.
I have always made it my mission to understand our global landscape.
Now, as I pursue several exciting projects in global sport, I will continue to do just this - watch this space!
#sports #sportsmarketing #sportsbiz #futureisnow
The day has come - today we will see the first FIS President elected in the 21st Century.
How we envisage our collective future - and how we get there - has been central to our discussions these last few months.
It is clear there is no “one size fits all”, and it is 100% clear to me that we must find a model that fits and benefits everyone.
Join me today on Election Day! Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
Watch the FIS Congress & Election live from 12.00 CET: https://lnkd.in/g-ftkrR
#AchievingMoreTogether #FIS #Skiing #Snowboarding
During my discussions about my candidacy for FIS President, I am listening carefully and hearing loud and clear that our members want governance changes and growth. As President, I will embrace all members and stakeholders and together we can make this happen.
Leaders across snow and global sport have spoken and they are echoing our needs - FIS needs a President who can deliver from Day One:
Join me in one week today on election day on 4 June. Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
The time has come - thank you everyone for your overwhelming encouragement for my candidacy for FIS President in this new era. My vision is for us to transform FIS into a movement for world skiing and snowboarding - join me www.sarah-lewis.com
#AchievingMoreTogether #skiing #snowboarding #snowsports #FIS
Listening to the global snow sport community has been central to my Presidential campaign. Our discussions have been open and rewarding.
I fully understand our community’s needs, the issues we collectively face, and our expectations for the future. In this spirit of transparency, I am making our dialogue public.
It is important that our entire community knows that I am serious about change where its necessary from day one:
Listening will continue to be central to my Presidency.
Join me on election day on 4 June. Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
Today’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is especially important for all of us in snow sport.
Over the last 20 years as Secretary General of FIS, we have seen more than 40 National Ski Associations join us from all five continents. We are now 135 nations-strong!
As FIS President, I intend for us to strengthen and build on the wide diversity of our membership and its representation in our governance. Let’s take this opportunity today to come together, celebrate our cultures and our future.
Join me in two weeks time on 4 June for Election Day. Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
As the first female candidate for FIS President, I am honoured to serve our global ski and snowboard community. And as Belgium’s first candidate for a representative position in FIS, I am proud to serve every one of our members around the world.
Join me on election day on 4 June - together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
Official announcement of applicants by FIS:
Today is the one week anniversary of the launch of my candidacy for FIS President on 6 April, the UN International Day of Sport for Development and Peace!
Thank you for your messages of support and collaboration with the FIS Piste Map - a strategic plan for us to take FIS into an exciting future, to become a global movement for World Skiing and Snowboarding.
International Sport serves as a platform for Development and Peace and during events, official meetings and ski and snow sport competitions that I have attended in 59 FIS member countries, I have always taken great pleasure interacting and sharing experiences with others involved in ski and snow sports from all cultures and different backgrounds.
In sport we are all together and this friendship contributes to peace and understanding of our different cultures and beliefs.
It’s been an incredible month connecting with National Ski Associations, stakeholders and supporters across the world - and the global media - since launching my candidacy for FIS President.
It is clear just how important this next era is for FIS, our sport and our athletes.
Yesterday was Labour Day around the world, and we have urgent work in front of us, with the pandemic continuing to affect everyone and our sport - but thankfully some things have not changed: an outstanding hard-working FIS family around the world who show resilience, focus and the fact that we are in this together, to do the best for our sport and to keep this intact.
I am ready and prepared to give everything to take FIS into an exciting future, to become a global movement for World Skiing and Snowboarding.
Let’s make change where change is needed - and let’s drive our sport forwards together!
Just a few days ago the Future of FIS Working Group outlined to National Associations the 15 attributes it desires of the future FIS leadership.
With 2020 set to be felt by FIS and the global sports industry for years to come, 2021 will continue to be a vital period that will challenge the FIS leadership in expected as well as unexpected ways.
FIS needs a President who can navigate the scenarios to successfully lead FIS to a new and bright future embodying the 15 attributes laid out by the Working Group.
Today I would like to thank the National Associations for their continued support in my candidacy for FIS President.
We can, and will, achieve more together.
Join me on Friday 4 June for election day! Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
#AchievingMoreTogether #FIS #Skiing #Snowboarding
We are only 250 days to Beijing 2022 - with six new FIS events!
Today I can see exactly what I’ve been fighting for on behalf of our Sport as a member of the IOC Programme Commission, three Olympic and two Youth Olympic Games Coordination Commissions and as a leader of the FIS Delegation at five Olympic Winter Games over the last 20 years.
Our Olympic success has the single biggest impact on the profile of our sport. It means more promotion of the sport, more athletes can participate in the Games and more exposure for the FIS member National Associations. The Olympic revenues generated by the IOC through the Games means we can distribute more necessary funding to our members to develop the sport globally.
We must continue to get our Olympic future right at Beijing 2022 and beyond. With me as President, I am fully committed to achieving this crucial objective.
Join me on election day on 4 June. Together we will transform FIS into a global movement for skiing and snowboarding!
Documents to download
Washington Post (Associated Press)
France 24 (Agence France Presse)
ran Wintersport (Sport-Informations-Dienst)
The Sports Examiner (International)
GlobalData Sport (International)
Deutsche Welle (GER/International)
FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine / GER)
Tiroler Tageszeitung (Austria)
Die Presse, Metzger live (Austria)