Originally Posted by rx2ski
The age classes start at 18, so there is a misconception that it is only for older racers. I'm not sure if it is new this year, but USSA Alpine competitors of age can race without purchasing an additional masters license. That permits racers to see what the masters scene is like and may breathe some new life into the younger ranks. If the U29 racers don't see World Cup or NCAA spots on the horizon, but still want the adrenalin rush, they already have the equipment and won't incur a lot of additional expense besides travel. Otherwise, IMO, I don't see former USSA Alpine competitors having as much fun going to Nastar, but they might find some beer leagues that fill a new niche.
While this is correct, I think the perception will persist based on the age distribution of those who actually do participate. In Rocky at least, it's rare to have more than a handful from classes 1-3 combined. You start to see more in class 4 and 5, and the largest classes are always 7 and 8 (55-64 yo). This fits well with the narrative that young racers are either moving up to higher levels of competition or they are burned out and sick of racing, and that late 20s and 30-something ex-racers are too busy establishing careers, driving their kids to their own races etc. So the sweet spot of masters is ex-racers who are old enough that their kids are largely independent, they are settled in their careers, and they start to think more and more about their glory days, etc. So it's logical to assume that there will always be a hole in the numbers from the 18-40ish range.
So whatever the numbers of juniors racing today, they won't hit masters until at least 2037. The people we could logically expect to be coming in to masters now were high school/junior racers in about the mid 90s. I think most of us have agreed that for various reasons the pool of people who were high school/junior racers in the mid 90s in the US is smaller than that in the mid 80s. That's why I think the USSA may want to go after alternate channels besides those which have traditionally gone to masters racing.
Again, we keep coming up with reasons like cost, travel, time requirements, or skin suits (although truth be told the only reason I race is that I look dead sexy in Spandex ) these factors are certainly valid reasons why participation is low but these issues are not new, so they really don't speak to the question of why it is falling.
The decline of snowboard racing is also a really interesting question. I don't think I've seen a snowboard racer who wasn't from Europe in at least 20 years.