don't nbe so tough on yourself or the parents, although tI mujst admit there are many parents completely over the top.
Fortynatley, I feel and have been told by otheres that I have kept things in prospective and maybe that is why my boys continued to race.
I treated my kids the same whether they were Damn near last (which they were and are at times) or in the top 10 at JO's (which they have been at times)
I am not a coach, but have the unique opportunity to "Just Hang" with a lot of ski racers this age, I don't think it is fair to put all the blame for the attrition rate on parents and coaches. This really comes into play at about 15 and crescendos once they can drive.
My younger boy is a 1st year J2 and 15 and is still racing (although we still have no snow) and my older son is 19 and raced until last year as a senior in hgh school.
You are completely discounting the social implications of being gone all the time training & racing every weekend. These kids miss "hanging out" with school friends, school dances, school related sporting events, and just being one of the "Guys or Gals" in regard to their non-racing friends. The curiosity of and natural urge to hang out with the opposite sex is huge. Kids priorities change at this age and many would just rather go to the "Prom" than spend another 6 hours in the car to go freeze their butts off, screaming down the hill in a blizzard in their underwear!
I believe these social pressures far outweigh equipment issues or pressure to "Make Iit" from coaches or parents.
I know I forget about the intense feelings of wanting to belong and not being alienated at school, that many kids experience at this age.
On the Academy subject, I know quite a few kids who never went the academy route who made the ski team & World Cup.
All & all, the travel, being gone from friends, other sports and interests and sometimes believe or not even academics, make kids stop racing, but that doesn't mean they still don't like to freeski. I think these are the reasons kids quit in many more instances than success pressure from coaches or parents. And don't under estimate the pure "time" commitment. It is huge. Academic pressures and time management put a lot of pressure on the kids.
Is it really that rewarding and that much fun if you are finshing 50th out 60 racers all the time?That has gotta get old. No matter how much moral fiber and terpitude you have that has gotta a get old. I have even seen kids quit who were winning all the time. @ come to mind. One is playing football and made that a priority and the other is racing karts hoping to become a professional race driver. He was one of the most talented and very successful racers I have seen. He quit to race cars!
At least in other sports your whole team wins. All 60 guys on a football team get to participate in that win in some way. Only 1 winner per race in ski racing! And yes that is difficult.
I think Vince Lombardi said, "if winning isn't important, Why do they keep score." Kids are really pretty damn smart. You are not going to get away with telling them that winning isn't important and continue to have the timed and placed in a race. if winning isn't important than at somepoint maybe you should go freeski. Afterall a race is a "competition.
To put winning in perspective, I don't think it is the most important thing, but I think it is an important thing. And yes you can consider many other things than coming in 1st a win. But lets not be condescending to the kids. They still know that if they fininshed 50th even though they made some greatly improved turns that last run, they still lost. Adults lose a lot of credibility when they patronize kids.
I have coached a ton of baseball over the years from kids 7 to 18.
Guess what? Ski racing isn't that unique or special. We lost lots of kids about the same age. They quit because of social issues and other interests, not because the bats & field were bigger or the parents & coaches expected them to sign with the Yankees some day.