Skiing. . . an “alpine” sport ruled by Swiss leaders?

By Sébastien Cala, Grégory Quin

The figure of Marc Hodler is omnipresent in the history of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and international skiing. Having served a forty-seven-year term at the head of the FIS (1951–1998), this man from Bern is undoubtedly the sports leader who remained in a major position in international sport for the longest amount of time. However, far from being an isolated case, this trajectory embodies an “imaginary” of Swiss skiing, bringing together images of sports tourism, champion figures, competition organizations, and therefore the commitment of leaders at the highest level. This contribution has two aims: first, to understand the international logics of ski governance by producing different quantitative analyses of the leaders in office in the various FIS commissions and committees between 1924 and 1998; and second, in a more qualitative way, to measure the influence of Swiss leaders on the different varieties of skiing (alpine, Nordic) during the twentieth century. Therefore, it will be a question for us of highlighting the intersecting dynamics that can exist between the two key skiing regions in Switzerland (Lütschine and Grisons), but also of deepening our knowledge of the organization of Swiss networks on the subject of international skiing. To produce these analyses, we will draw upon the FIS’s institutional archives, but also on documents from the Swiss Ski Federation, the Swiss Sports Museum, and the International Olympic Committee, as well as on interviews with Swiss leaders (active or retired) and members of their families.

  • skiing
  • Switzerland
  • leaders
  • networks
  • Alps
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