The U.S. Ski Association, unhappy over the proposed schedule for next year's World Cup season, said Saturday it was pulling out of the World Cup and considering setting up a rival circuit.
U.S. officials said they had strong support from Canada, Japan, France and the International Racing Team, which represents ski manufacturers, for an alternative circuit unless demands for radical changes in World Cup organization were met.The tentative schedule, announced by World Cup chairman Erich Demetz Saturday, provided a spark to the long-simmering feud between disaffected participants in the circuit and the World Cup leadership.
U.S. Ski Association President Howard Peterson said proposals for change were submitted long ago but so far have been ignored by the International Ski Federation, the sport's ruling body.
He said that if the World Cup resisted moves to restructure its organization, the United States and its allies planned to launch their rival circuit in 1992.
Peterson said the United States was refusing a World Cup committee offer to host next season's opening men's races and instead would not host any races.
The U.S. association, whose women's team is much stronger than the men, had been pushing to host the opening women's races instead.
Peterson said the sport has not been marketed effectively, and was not run fairly or profitably as a business.
"Either the World Cup will change, or our new circuit will become the major one," Peterson said. No details of a possible rival circuit were yet available.
Max Renner, vice president of IRT, said his group was tired of having little input on World Cup decisions despite contributing about $45 million a year to the circuit through the national federations.
"We want to be accepted as partners. Up to now, they decided, and we do. We want it to be run as a business," Renner said. "It can be a good business."
Renner said the IRT plans to stop all financial and technical support to all teams after April 15 if they don't get satisfactory answers from the national ski federations.
Demetz said he was saddened by the U.S. decision to pull out but he held out hope that something might change by next month's Zurich meeting where finalization of the schedule by the executive council of FIS is expected.
"Never say never," Demetz said, but added that he resented the tone of Saturday's announcement.
"We are not ready to accept all the proposals," Demetz said. "We are not ready to accept blackmailing. We can have no discussions under the pressure of blackmail."