Walter Hofer, left, and Joe Fitzgerald have retired ©FIS

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has paid tribute to two long-serving employees who have left their roles after both spending more than two decades with the governing body.

Austria's Walter Hofer has retired as ski jumping race director after 28 years, with the FIS crediting him with "leading the sport to great popularity".

He was also in charge of Nordic combined between 2008 and 2012 and has been replaced in his ski jumping role by Italy's Sandro Pertile.

Joe Fitzgerald has also announced his retirement after 21 years as freestyle race director and coordinator.

His career saw him take charge of freestyle skiing at seven Winter Olympic Games and 13 World Championships.

He has been replaced by Swiss official Andrea Rinaldi, in the role of freestyle moguls and aerials race director.

Walter Hofer was ski jumping race director for 28 years ©Getty Images
Walter Hofer was ski jumping race director for 28 years ©Getty Images

"We wish to express the sincerest thanks of FIS and especially the disciplines of ski jumping and freestyle skiing to both Walter and Joe for all their dedicated engagement over the past years and decades," said FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis. 

"They have both contributed tremendously to the development of the disciplines and this was also recognised by the Committees, organisers and National Ski Associations during the recent FIS Committee Meetings with some moving tributes. 

"Their professional work during the handover to their successors during the past competition season and this spring has been exemplary and enabled both disciplines to prepare in the best way possible for a new phase."