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college ski racers

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Just a question about the level of college ski racers.  I have been digging though old threads and you tube videos but haven't been able to quite get the answer to my question.  I have gotten the impression that in college there are some top level ridiculous racers but there are also alot of clubs that are not as competitive/with new kids/ are just out to ski and have a good time.  Is this true or is it all a high level.  I'm going to be a junior in HS starting racing last year and in the first year am about top 25 in NJ high school racing.  I know NJ isn't great and its hard to say without seeing me but I think I hit a mid summer snow with drawl and can't stop thinking about racing and possible racing in college.  Any feedback would be awesome.

post #2 of 15

It depends a lot on the level. NCAA D1 is insane and the best skiers there are good enough to go pro. NCAA D2 and D3 are substantially less competitive but still really good. If you go to a school known for academics and not skiing, D3 racing would probably be an option for most better than average high school racers. Then there's club and other less formal racing teams which are a mix of D2/D3 caliber guys at the top and plenty of first timers at the bottom. It really depends a lot on the school; U. Colorado is insane, while I'm sure there's places that are the Caltech men's basketball of skiing.

post #3 of 15

Like has been said, D1 schools are pretty elite racers... ie, you don't find them, they find you.  Pretty sure there isn't skiing at D2/D3 level, that's where USCSA comes into play.  USCSA ( is primarily made up of club teams from all over the country.  Most club teams are open to all ability levels.  There are also definitely some top tier scholarship teams in USCSA that would also be very competitive in D1 (Sierra Nevada, Plymouth State to name a few) where you've got to be pretty good to join.  I raced USCSA 4 years and it was a blast, best part of my college years... our team made nationals all 4 years where we would proceed to get our asses kicked, but it was still awesome to be able to race along side some top level skiers.  Most likely if you're looking at a school that's even remotely close to any sized ski hill and it doesn't have a D1 team, high likelihood they have a USCSA club team that would take skiers of all abilities.  I raced against lots of teams from northeast/midatlantic region that were club teams of all abilities.

post #4 of 15

Just noticed this too::


You'll notice there are D2 and D3 schools listed, but most of those schools actually participate in USCSA so I assume they give scholarships, not really sure how those work.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

thanks tam,  I was more thinking about the club teams and what the talent on most club teams is.  Be it on the upper or lower end of the talent spectrum.

post #6 of 15

Having raced people from every level at fis races in the last year, it is fair to say that any level of NCAA racing is exponentially higher than that of any high school program. While it has already been pointed out that NCAA D1 is the highest level of ski racing short of continental and world cup. However, both D2 and D3 have very competitive teams, with skiers who are sub 40 fis points. Just so you know. if you have only raced high school, skiing club may be more of what your looking for

post #7 of 15

Best way to tell the competitiveness is to compare your USSA or FIS points with the members on the team roster.  You can go to the FIS or USSA sites and plug in the racer's name and get a look at their points for last season.  There are USCSA teams with terrific racers and there are USCSA teams with primarily drinkers.  NCAA team?  I'd assume competitive right from the get go.


To look up USSA points:


To look up FIS points:


By Googling you can usually find out who is on the team roster.  Guess their year of birth from their grade and their region from the location the team is in.  You can usually figure out which Tom Smith it is.

Edited by sibhusky - 7/11/11 at 10:52am
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

im not even thinkings about NCAA I'm more thinking about USCSA club teams.  thanks for all the answers.

post #9 of 15


Originally Posted by skisalot View Post

im not even thinkings about NCAA I'm more thinking about USCSA club teams.  thanks for all the answers.


Really depends on where you are going... here's a general guideline by East Coast conferences:

Eastern: good to really good, most are <100 point skiers, takes about a 25 to win a race.

Allegheny: ok to good, most are <200 point skiers, takes about a 70 to win a race.

Mideast (New York): ok to good, most are <200 points, takes about a 50 to win a race.

New Jersey: ok to terrible, many had never raced prior to college, a few sub-100 skiers. I went to Rutgers and we weren't very good. Takes about a 100 to win a race.

Southeast: ok to terrible, many had never raced prior to college, just a handful of good skiers (I know them all. LOL). Takes about a 100 to win a race.

Midwest: all over the place, some really strong skiers and some really terrible ones too.


And I would assume that the West Coast conferences are stronger top to bottom. 


Basically, if you want to race, regardless of your current level, you can- just need to find a team. Some are very competitive and some aren't at all. Most of all, it's a lot of fun, almost like a beer league in the lower conferences.
post #10 of 15

Most important is to keep your grades up. Your skiing skills might differentiate you from the other highly qualified applicants and you may get an acceptance at an elite school. UCLA asked my son for an extra essay about his high level waterskiing competitions - and accepted him.


If they don't have a ski team - start one. My other son started the sailing team at UC Davis and they made Nationals  the second year the team was going. While it is nice to go into an established program, college athletics is often very supportive of passionate and driven students creating teams. You can still compete.


The athletics were great and helpful for both boys - but they had the grades to avoid being rejected out of hand (4.+ is needed at too many schools). Junior year is critical. Study hard, train hard and forgo the distractions (TV, video games, internet socializing, drugs, cars and parties) It's just a short time! The payoff can be huge for the rest of your life.



post #11 of 15

In collegiate ski racing, there are 2 leagues. NCAA, which is FIS and USCSA. Within USCSA, there are several levels and it depends on the school. The schools division class does not apply to which league they compete in. There are D1 schools competing in USCSA.


In some colleges, skiing is a varsity sport and some schools it is a club sport. At your level of skiing/racing, I would look at schools which are a good fit for you academically and that includes the areas you wish to study. Once you narrow down the list of schools to apply to, look at their skiing programs.


The Eastern High School Championships is a great event and should be a goal for you this season. If you really want to improve, you might want to explore a weekend race program in addition to high school racing. This will help boost your USSA points.

post #12 of 15

It all depends on the area where you go to school and the division of the school. I attended UNH last year and they had both a NCAA D1 team and a USCSA D3 team that I started up with a few people at the school. The NCAA team has made nationals every year for the past 5 or 6 years, and has several USST hopefuls on board. A couple of seasons ago we had Willie Ford (Julia's older brother), who was in the teens for points, and at one point in the top 15 for both GS and SL in the nation. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the D3 team, which has some highly skilled racers (due to the low point cutoff for the NCAA team), but also has many laid back athletes that just like to get away for the weekend to ski race. The school I go to now is the same way, and it really just matters what your school offers. UNH's D3 team could easily compete in USCSA's D2, but can't due to the fact that they already have a NCAA team, and the same can be said about a handful of other schools in USCSA, but most teams are generally laid back, with racers ranging from 300pts to 60pts.


USCSA D2 is pretty intense. I know alot of kids who race in D2 and are in the low 40s and 30s for points, the type of kids that lead your weekend USSA club races when they are not racing FIS.


My advice, look for a good school first. If they don't have a ski team, you can always start one. It isn't all that difficult, and is doable in a couple of months if you are focused and have a good group of people to start with.

post #13 of 15

The big question is where do you want to be in terms of life?  Your race "resume" is pretty short and it sounds like one year racing with the Pope John folk?  A lot of the kids from our hill raced the Mountain Creek and that local New York circuit.  Two things really up for consideration here would be that pesky life question and how much and how hard you have to devote to be there.  That said, a few kids raced both PARA and for the high school and they did quite well.  In your case you would have to opt for .... I think they call it TARA or something since it was NJ, CT and Southern NY.  PARA is the Pennsylvania Alpine Racing Association.  But I am pretty sure you can only "declare" and race in one.  PARA and TARA are pure USSA by the book so to speak.  That does not however mean you will never race in NJ if you declare PA, my son and a bunch of the PARA kids usually started off at Mountain Creek for the first of the season just to get out there and would occasionally go around the corner to Hidden Valley.  Depending on where you live in NJ for these last years Blue Mountain is probably the most dedicated of the USSA teams but may be just a half hour more distant than Camelback.


Why am I going this route?  To be confusing of course, just kidding but the kids from Pope John wanted to max out the race time and training time and have fun so they did both.  Check for current information but Shawnee had started to abandon the race program and many a night gates were not set.  Camelback on the other hand had training like religion on Tuesday, Thursday and organized "camps" to get experience in Super G up at Stratton.  Short camps like two days of training and a farewell actual race.


But where and why do you want to go to school in NJ?  Princeton had a kind of walk on team that was on and not very intense.  Rutgers had something going but nothing in this area are going to be anywhere the caliber of UVM or Middlebury.  Check out everything from Centennial in Hackettstown to Ramapo up in Mawah.  I don't think Rutgers Camden will have a team nor will Richard Stockton down in Atlantic City.


Honestly one of the things here, and no I do not enjoy being negative at all but started into this kind of research and prospective paths when my son was into it ... and I will stand corrected one person who posted here and you should probably PM or open a line of communication with is Sibhusky, she knows a lot about this stuff.  The reality unless you are holding out on us is that you have a year of HS racing under your belt.  IMHO you are in a good spot to be ,,,,, you are in the best sport in the world that will carry you through your life.  OK, we are in NJ and we get the short end of the stick but we are close to places like CB so you can be running gates a few nights and on weekends.  Most of the scholarship money at places like U of Vermont and top team slots are taken by kids from Norway and such.  Those teams are way out of reach for even kids who have been racing since the "J-5" (tykes), unofficial program.  I guess my point is that the big leagues like just making mark to get low enough points in a discipline just to get the FIS license, the average guy like you or me is going to get our asses handed to us in short order.  Those guys are for real.  I am the LAST person to say hang it up so I sure am not going that route.  Like I started to get into, this is a life sport.  Do what you can do now and then there is Masters racing and "beer leagues" or just skiing for fun ... and (hold flames please), I still believe that the best way to get good is through race. Running gates will put you light years ahead of those who "traverse the hill and turn at leisure".


From where I sit without knowing your budget and dedication or support means, to max things out here if doing both is possible, that may be the way to go.  Go over to CB and talk to Gus who is also from that area (Bergen) and/or his #2 a nice guy named Jack.  Then look at the schedules.  It sounded like the kids from Pope were at CB for the training (some from Shawnee before the program started to die a slow death, real quick once the owners 2 daughters went to college he was kind of trying to kill it off.  CB was very dedicated to training with a young fellow named Randy doing a lot of dry land pre season stuff on Sunday.


So, it is confusing but you do stand to get some very good training and fun with a mix of programs .... not a bad thing at all.


I had that list of programs saved ... but zapped it.  I will try to find it in the next few days.

Edited by Yuki - 8/25/11 at 9:15pm
post #14 of 15

I ski and train with the University of Colorado (Boulder) teams, both the Div. 1 USSA team and the USCSA club team. The Div 1 team won the NCAAs last year, and for the guys, 40 FIS points is the minimum opening bet. But there are some way quick skiers on the club team, in the 30 to 60 point range.  But the club team is a club, just sign up and ski, and there are folks on it who are just beginning racers.  So, yeah, there's no reason i can see why you can't ski on a USCSA question is, you made the team, now where do you want to go from there?




Originally Posted by skisalot View Post

im not even thinkings about NCAA I'm more thinking about USCSA club teams.  thanks for all the answers.


post #15 of 15

if you can find the right fit, college racing is really fun.  Almost makes college bearable.

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