The 2016/2017 ski season marked the 50th birthday of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
To commemorate the coming of age of its first World Cup tour, FIS and the event organisers took turns in staging various festivities during the 50th anniversary season.
A brief history of the FIS ski world cup
Introduced during the FIS World Championships in Portillo, Chile, in August 1966, the inaugural season of the FIS World Cup in 1967 saw 17 races take place for both men and ladies. Some of the so-called “Classics”, such as Kitzbühel and Wengen, participated from the beginning. The first race, a men’s slalom, was held in Berchtesgaden, Germany, on 5 January 1967, followed by the ladies’ premiere just two days later in Oberstaufen, Germany. Heinrich Messner from Austria and Nancy Greene from Canada became the first winners. By March 2017, more than 3200 FIS Ski World Cup races have been held on all five continents and with tens of thousands of racers participating.
Sölden sets the tone
The celebrations began already at the glacier opening in Sölden, Austria, during the annual FIS Forum Alpinum, where members of the racing community and representatives of the media traditionally gather for a kick-off. A special honour was presented to Heinrich Messner, winner of the historical first race, at the October 2016 Forum. Starting with the races in Sölden, a special “50 years FIS Ski World Cup” logo was incorporated on the shoulder of all starting bibs worn by the racers, in TV graphics and broadcasting as well as in diverse other promotional items used throughout the season. Further celebrations were held for example at the annual Skipass exhibition in Modena, the biggest fair held in Italy every November to promote winter sports and tourism. A special 50th anniversary celebration saw the participation of one of Italy’s biggest skiing heroes, Deborah Compagnoni, along with Italian journalists Lucio Zampino and Massimo Di Marco, who witnessed the birth of the FIS Ski World Cup in 1967.
Legends galore in zagreb
The FIS Ski World Cup event that coincided with the actual 50th anniversary of the first race was the Snow Queen Trophy in Zagreb, Croatia. To celebrate the occasion, the organising committee of the ladies’ and men’s slalom events in the Croatian capital staged an exhibition race on 4 January 2017, featuring 18 current and former overall World Cup champions. The invitational event was held on a 165-metre-long ski slope on Bakačeva Street, right in the city centre of Zagreb. The celebration, entitled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup,” attracted some 15,000 spectators. Croatia's ski star siblings Janica and Ivica Kostelic were joined in the race by a number of ski legends and World Cup champions including the first winner of the men’s World Cup in 1967, the legendary Jean-Claude Killy, along with Karl Schranz, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Marc Girardelli, Marcel Hirscher, Alberto Tomba, Andreas Wenzel, Tamara McKinney, Pernilla Wiberg, Tina Maze, Renate Götschl, Michaela Dorfmeister and Petra Kronberger.