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Congress in Pau: “The FIS is a big family”

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Just days from now, the FIS Congress will take place in Reykjavik, Iceland – the 55th in the history of the world's most important international winter sports federation. As the highest decision-making body within FIS, the Congress is held every year, these days bringing together more than 1,000 delegates.

In the long history of these gatherings, one in particular stands out. From 27 to 31 August 1946, 37 delegates from 18 countries met in Pau, France, for the 16th FIS Congress. The world was still struggling in the aftermath of war. FIS had not gathered its members together for a decade. Nations across Europe were still suffering the aftershocks of trauma and economic ruin.

Against this troubled backdrop the FIS delegates sorely needed some hope and some unity – and thanks to then president Nikolai Ramm Østgaard, they got it. Opening the Congress, the Norwegian declared movingly that “the FIS is one big family". Members were more than representatives of their national federations; they were kin, coming together after the years of horror. In the same spirit, Østgaard stressed that FIS would remain neutral in international politics, always remaining democratic and following the vote of the majority.

The Congress in Pau was a busy one. Iceland, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Austria, Denmark and the USA were admitted, while Germany and Japan were excluded (they were admitted in 1951). The results of the 1941 World Ski Championships in Cortina were annulled and the next World Championships scheduled. Marc Hodler, then delegate for Switzerland, proposed the following schedule: 1948 Winter Olympics, 1949 World Championships, 1950 no major event, 1951 World Championships, 1952 Winter Olympics. France's request to include military patrol races in the World Championships programme was rejected.

As it moved through the agenda, FIS proved that it could adapt to the times and bring nations together. Out of the ashes of war, FIS was entering the modern era.