The future of the flagship FIS Ski World Cup race in Wengen is under threat because of a long-running row between organisers and Swiss-Ski, the national governing body, over the distribution of media and sponsorship rights revenues.
The spat between the organising committee and Swiss-Ski reignited this week as the pair traded statements following the federation’s request to remove the race from the provisional 2021-22 FIS World Cup calendar.
Swiss-Ski said that it “cannot meet the financial demands” of the organisers of the iconic Lauberhorn race.
All organisers of World Cup stages in Switzerland receive a share of revenues from a central commercial pot that is decided upon according to the importance and prestige of the event. Organisers in Wengen currently receive just over CHF2m (€1.89m/$2.06m).
The disaccord between organisers and Swiss-Ski first surfaced in 2016 and continues to be examined by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Wengen race is already assured its place on the 2020-21 FIS calendar but Swiss-Ski moved on Wednesday to remove it from the calendar in 2021-22 during a meeting of the alpine ski committee of the International Ski Federation (FIS).
The organisers, who say they remain “ready to talk” with Swiss-Ski, have called for a “fairer distribution” of revenues in order to finance the event in the future.
The organisers also flagged up that Swiss-Ski president Urs Lehmann had recently “publicly emphasised the great importance of the Lauberhorn races” in various recent interviews.
Swiss-Ski holds an international broadcast rights deal with the European Broadcasting Union, the umbrella body of public-service broadcasters, from 2016-17 to 2021-22. Domestic broadcast rights are held by public broadcaster SRG SSR, also in a six-year deal to 2022. Swiss Ski Weltcup Marketing AG, a subsidiary of the national federation, handles the sale of sponsorship rights.
Crans-Montana in Valais, which is bidding for the 2025 Alpine World Ski Championships, is considered the most likely replacement on the 2021-22 calendar in the event that Wengen is excluded.
Gian-Franco Kasper, the FIS president, said in January that the international federation “certainly does not want to lose Wengen as a World Cup venue”, and described the Lauberhorn as “one of our largest and best-known races”.