Italian Winter Sports Federation chief out

MILAN, Italy -- Italian Winter Sports Federation president Gaetano Coppi has resigned, sending Italy's teams into disarray as the ski season gets under way.

Coppi announced his surprise decision in a letter read at a FISI board meeting Tuesday. He referred to criticism related to the federation's economic troubles following this year's Torino Olympics.

"I always said that FISI was not in such a great crisis but rather a moment of difficulty that would have passed," Coppi said. "Now that milestone is closer. At this point, I resign irrevocably."

Coppi, president since 2000, said FISI has signed on two new sponsors that would raise $3.65 million over three years.

"This is news that I've waited a long time for" and that will "bring the federation near to economic recovery," Coppi said.

The sponsors will be introduced Friday in Val Gardena, where men's World Cup Alpine skiing races are scheduled this weekend.