Johan Eliasch has been elected FIS President ©Getty Images

Johan Eliasch has been elected International Ski Federation (FIS) President at the organisation’s virtual Congress today.

Eliasch was one of four candidates seeking to succeed the long-serving Gian-Franco Kasper, who has stepped down after 23 years in charge of the organisation.

The 77-year-old Swiss official was absent from the Congress after being taken to hospital over the weekend with breathing problems, with the FIS saying he had left intensive care yesterday.

Eliasch was elected in the first round of voting after securing more than half of the votes.

Former FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis, Mats Årjes, the Swedish Olympic Committee President and FIS vice-president, and Switzerland’s former men’s world downhill champion Urs Lehmann also stood in the election.

Candidates required a clear majority to win the election.

Eliasch secured 65 of the 119 valid votes cast in the first round, giving him a winning total of 54 per cent.

Lehmann finished as the runner-up with 26 votes, with Lewis receiving 15 for third place.

Årjes received 13 votes in fourth place.

Eliasch will now complete Kasper's term, which is due to expire next year.

"I'm incredibly humbled to have been chosen as your President," Eliasch said.

Johan Eliasch was elected in the first round of voting after receiving a majority ©FIS
Johan Eliasch was elected in the first round of voting after receiving a majority ©FIS

"There are many people I would like to thank and I will be in touch with all of you later today.

"I would like to extend a special thank you to Gian-Franco for his incredible services that he has given to FIS for half a century.

"I have known Gian-Franco for 25 years.

"I know without Gian-Franco, we would not be where we are today.

"At the earliest opportunity, when we are altogether in person, we shall honour you the way you deserve.

"On behalf of every member of the FIS family, I wish you a speedy recovery.

"I will be engaged, open minded, transparent, and a President for all nations, all disciplines.

"We have incredible opportunities, now let us go to work."

Eliasch, a Swedish billionaire, vowed to stand down as chief executive of sporting goods manufacturer Head if elected FIS President.

The official, who was nominated for the role by GB Snowsport last year, also announced during his campaign that he would not be remunerated in the role.

Eliasch had received a series of high-profile endorsements for his campaign, including skiing stars Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, Aksel Lund Svindal, Alexis Pinturault and Hermann Maier.

Gian-Franco Kasper, who is under observation in hospital, was named FIS Honorary President ©Getty Images
Gian-Franco Kasper, who is under observation in hospital, was named FIS Honorary President ©Getty Images

Backing had also been given by John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Eliasch vowed in his campaign to pursuing state-of-the-art media and technology formats used in other sports, as well as greater resources for social media, sports marketing, content production and digital media, as part of efforts to grow coverage.

A formal review of competition formats and schedules was proposed to benefit athletes, sponsors, broadcasters and viewers.

He vowed to create an advisory forum of experts, featuring officials from sports marketing, media and entertainment, to help guide the organisation.

Governance reforms were also proposed by the Eliasch, including introducing term limits to an organisation that before today had only four Presidents in its 97-year history.

Sweden's Ivar Holmquist was the first FIS President and served in the role from 1924 to 1934, before being succeeded by Nikolai Ramm Østgaard of Norway, who led the organisation from 1934 to 1951.

Switzerland's Marc Hodler took over from the Norwegian and remained at the helm for a 47-year spell until 1998.

Kasper had served as secretary general under Holder from 1975, before becoming FIS President in 1998.

His achievements were highlighted in a tribute video during the Congress.

The FIS Congress later approved a motion to name Kasper as the FIS Honorary President.

Former Canadian Ski Association President and long-serving FIS Council member Patrick Smith was one of two officials named as honorary members of the FIS.

The 16-member FIS Council were elected during the Congress ©FIS
The 16-member FIS Council were elected during the Congress ©FIS

Former German Ski Association President Alfons Hörmann was also named an honorary member.

Hörmann is currently facing calls to resign as German Olympic Sports Confederation President, amid critical claims made against the organisation's leadership.

Despite missing out on the FIS Presidency, Lehmann and Årjes were among the 16 candidates elected to the FIS Council.

The pair were joined by Erik Røste of Norway, Germany’s Franz Steinle, the United States’ Dexter Paine, Slovenia’s Enzo Smrekar, Italy’s Flavio Roda, Australia’s Dean Gosper and Austria’s Peter Schroecksnadel.

The remaining places were secured by France's Michel Vion, Japan’s Ari Murasato, Czech Roman Kumpost, China’s Zhen Liangcheng, Finland’s Martii Uusitalo, Bulgaria’s Tzeko Minev and Russia’s Elena Vyalbe.

Canada’s Ken Read, Spain’s Eduardo Valenzuela and Wojciech Gumny of Poland missed out on places on the FIS Council.

The FIS confirmed its next Congress will take place at Vilamoura in the Algarve region in Portugal from May 22 to 28 next year.

The virtual Congress was led by FIS vice-president Kumpost in place of the absent Kasper.

Lumi Global and Sceno Tech were appointed by the FIS to deliver the online meeting.