PARK CITY, Utah -- Despite his enormous success in the World Cup last season, gold medalist Ted Ligety still does not like the ski equipment regulations the International Ski Federation (FIS) imposed last year in an attempt to make the sport safer.
"I've been very vocal against the new regulations that have been put in place, for a variety of reasons," Ligety said at the Olympic media summit Monday. "The No. 1 reason is I don't think the safety question is really a valid question they were going to answer with these new skis. Also, I think it makes an unfair situation when a governing body makes rules that completely favor certain athletes and don't favor others.
"Also, it really affects the next generation of skiers coming up. This year, there will be 16-year-old skiers skiing on the same skis we did in the World Cup last year and they're hard for me to ski on a lot of times. That definitely does not help the development of the sport."
The regulations for giant slalom increased the minimum length of the skis (from 185 to 195 cm), as well as their minimum turn radius (from 27 meters to 35 meters). Ironically, Ligety said those modifications favor his style of skiing, but he said he is upset because they hurt skiers with different styles.
"In giant slalom, they definitely favor me. The style of skier they favor is someone who arcs more of the turn and takes the turn deeper, and that's definitely something I do," Ligety said. "But you look at someone like Massimiliano Blardone. He was third in the GS standings the year before and he was way out there this year [13th]. He was a guy that would take a straighter line and chop off the top of his turn, then hit it hard and get some acceleration out of his turn. And that technique just doesn't work anymore.
"There are definitely guys who have had their careers hurt by the new skis."
Ligety blasted the FIS on his website, calling the governing body a "dictatorship" and insisting the rules will ruin the sport. Asked Monday what changes he would have made instead, Ligety said he would prefer there be no regulations.
"FIS has proven themselves to be wrong every time they make new ski regulations," he said. "Before they made the skis wider and that made the skis more aggressive and created more injuries and now they're making them narrower. They keep having all these ideas that they test very mildly and they don't work, and then a couple years later they go back. I think it would be better if they just stayed out of it and let the ski companies make the regulations. ...
"I don't think it's made it any safer. In a lot of ways, it's made it more dangerous because you have to really muscle the ski around and manipulate and twist on the ski."