Last season, Vladimir Zografski (BUL) got disqualified many times because of the jumping-suit he was using, but indeed the fans will remember better the disqualification of Gregor Schlierenzauer in Bad Mitterndorf.
Here are some figures...
During the 2011/12 season, 1781 jumping-suits were approved (738 among men in the World Cup and Grand Prix, 428 among ladies in the World and Continental Cup, while 615 were approved in the Continental Cup and Fis Cup for men). The countries that were more strictly controlled were Austria (105), Germany (98) and Norway (96). On a total number of 14 disqualifications in the World Cup for men, 8 were decided for breaking the rules about the suits. In the Continental Cup, they were 39 on 60.
Sepp Gratzer, head of the equipment control service, will be in charge for equipment controlling also in the 2012/2013 season for his 10th year in a row. He tells: «The atmosphere between the controllers and the athletes is very good. The athletes themselves want many controls – the more controls, the more fairness and equal chances. The jumpers know exactly what’s the case. When Gregor Schlierenzauer came to me with his broken zipper and the tape with which they tried to fix it, he knew what will happen».
Besides various criteria – for example concerning the length of arms and legs, the collar, the different parts and seams etc. – the formula used to approve a suit was “body measures plus a tolerance of 6cm”.
But now this formula can be forgotten, thanks to the new jumping-suits presented during the meeting of the FIS Subcommittee for equipment and development in Zurich. The new suit is made up by 5 different parts instead than 7. This decreases the number of seams. Besides, the collar can have an elastic band and the zipper can exceed the collar by 1.5-5 cm, so it can’t «just open». Most importantly, the tolerance of the whole suit will go from 6 to 0 cm and therefore the suit will practically become part of the body. From the knee down, the old rule will still apply and the boot will have to fit under the suit. Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) was one of the first jumpers who had the chance to test the new suit and he said to be very satisfied with the innovations proposed.
What’s the next step?
The final decision will be taken during the FIS Congress that will take place at the end of May in South Korea. The new jumping-suits could be a real game-changer. They could mean the necessity to increase the in-run speed to reach the same distances, the need to have a less aggressive attitude on the take-off table or the necessity to move a little bit more upwards to allow a ballistic higher flight curve. Nevertheless, no reliable scientific data are available right now and all these speculations will have to be tested in reality.