FIS Plays Robin Hood, Takes (Prize) Money From Winners, Gives To Distant Runners-Up

While skiing fans were busy discussing proposed changes to programs of the Ski World Championships, elite skiers themselves were closely studying new FIS pay charts – with many stars not liking the changes.

In the recent years, a winner of the race in World Cup received EUR 13.000 – it will now be reduced to EUR 8700. A runner-up was to take home EUR 8700 – now it’s EUR 6500 instead.

It would become much less rewarding to win the Tour de Ski series : a winner of the grueling multi-day race will be entitled to half as much compared to what it used it be – EUR 47.700 vs 84.800! A second-placed athlete will also lose circa 10 thousand Euros.

So, where did all the money go? Well, to the “next bests”, it seems – the pot of prize money stays largely unchanged while remuneration will go to 20 best finishers instead of the current 10 in each race.

Let’s take a closer look. The one who finishes fifteenth shall be entitled to EUR 650. The 20th place will bring EUR 217. Given the current prices, is it enough to compensate even for high-flouro powders one needs to be competitive in today’s cross country ski racing at the elite level?

Top racers, including those who will be the most affected by the FIS’ “redistribution of wealth” are split in their opinion.

Both Petter Northug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby are fuming “We must be the only profession in the world, where top salary has actually fallen from 1995 to today”, – says Sundby to NRK.

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Northug echoes: “I suggest a payment system to FIS: where first place should pay the least and last place should pay the most”.

Swedish Olympic Champion Anna Haag disagrees, however:

“I think it’s important that more people get prize money, and athletes between 10-20 places could get something. There is not so much money in the sport, but it’s an extra motivation for young skiers on the way up.

I understand people, who are raging. Those who repeatedly win, no longer be paid as much. It’s like lowering someone’s salary. It is sad that those who win get less, but they also get other money in the form of bonuses”.

Sundby is getting a personal stipend of sorts from the Norges Skiforbundet;; nice round NOK 1 mln. or about EUR 108.000 per year – and that’s just of his sources of income, not necessary the biggest.

Northug turned that one down, not willing to be tied by the stipend conditions & restrictions, and, probably, for a good reason – Petter Northug Holding AS turned a profit of some NOK 10.5 million (EUR 1.1 million) in 2016.

With 80% of polled skiers in favor of more “egalitarian distribution”, according to FIS, it must have been the logic used by the International Federation: a few top skiers, raking in most of the podiums wouldn’t even notice the difference, so little are they dependent of those WC bonus payments – while majority would feel satisfaction. Time would tell who is right.

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