League Ski Racing - Best Practices
League Ski Racing - Best Practices
I race in the Far West Race Association www.fwra.com
which has race leagues of ski/snowboard clubs in 6 states (CA, NV, OR, WA, AZ, NM) and we are hoping to add UT & ID in the near future.
Here are some thoughts.
LOCAL SKI COUNCIL
A) Join a ski council that has club members that may ski at your local ski areas. Go to the National Ski Council Federation website www.skifederation.org
to find the U.S. ski councils. The Western Pennsylvania Ski Council www.wpsc.net
may be appropriate for your area. You can then invite the existing clubs to come up and compete in your league especially on weekend races. The race league can help the ski council by requiring competitors to be a member of one of the ski clubs in the council and requiring each of your existing clubs/teams to join the ski council.
B) Websites/webpages for every club/team. If there are clubs/teams in the race league that do not already have websites, create some separate webpages for each club/team on the league website to put up contact info, schedules, photos, and other information.
C) Ski Shows, Ski Swaps, Big Ski Sales at Local Retailers, local Warren Miller/Ski Movie premieres. Get a council/club table at these events to recruit new members and to encourage more existing members to race. Bring banners, photo boards, medals, trophies, stickers, magnets, club brochures, flyers, etc.
D) Lots of photos of ski racing, awards ceremonies, ski racing parties on council/league/club websites.
E) Open House/Pre-Race Party
F) Ski Racing Videos on council/league/club websites.
G) Develop ski/snowboard racing recruiting video/dvd to be used by all of the clubs/teams in your league.
H) Competitive spirit. Tight classes based on handicap - This makes each racer feel like they may have a chance of placing well/beating a fellow competitor at a race during the course of a season. We have 11 skier (0 to 10) plus 3 snowboarder (0, 5, 8) classes based on straight handicaps (% slower than 0 par time) with most classes spanning a 10% gap (i.e. class 4 has 40-49.99% handicaps). We also then further split the classes by gender Male/Female and then finally by age (Junior <18, Open 18-49, Veteran 50+). This gives us potentially 66 skier classes and 18 snowboarder classes.
I) Courses appropriate for the skill level of the participants. Typically in my local league there are 4-5 courses. This also encourages people to move up to race the tougher courses but allows for a minimum finish rate over 80%.
* Beginner course of about 10 gates for new racers/beginners.
* Novice course for classes 8-10. Generally NASTAR type set with no features (flush, hairpin, delay). SL no more than 1 flush and 2 hairpins.
* Intermediate Course for classes 5-7. Usually at least 1 feature (flush, hairpin, delay)
* Advanced/Expert Course for classes 0-4. Usually at least 2+ flushes and 3+ hairpins for SL and 1+ delay gates on GS on a USSA J1 or USSA Masters type set. Also levels 0-3 get 2 runs for a combined time. Winning time of 40-50 seconds per run in SL and over 50 seconds per run in GS.
* Snowboard course on slalom days with snowboard gates.
J) Every finisher contributes to team points. Every racer that finishes gets at least 1 point so that the racer can feel like a contributor to the team point totals. 1st place gets 25 points down to 18th or lower place will get 1 point.
K) Improvement Opportunities. Usually 2-3 one day Sa race clinics are offered during the racing season (women only, family, etc.). Early season multi-day camps usually in December (Keystone Nationals F-Su; Learn to Ski/Board/Race Week at Mammoth M-F). Also club level race Fr clinics are often opened up to the entire league. Some racers also go to week long race camps at Mt Hood in the summer and/or at Copper Mountain in November.
L) Minimize sandbagging by giving a single strike each time a person earns a handicap in the range above the current class and two strikes for a handicap 2 ranges above the current class. After 2 strikes, the person is bumped up to the next higher class. Strikes are held for the last full season plus the current season.
M) Encourage people to run in their appropriate classes by reducing the points by 1 place lower for finishes that earn handicaps 1-2 classes below the current class and reducing the points to 1 point for finishes that earn handicaps more than 2 classes below the current class. This is in conjunction with allowing people to self bump up or down with certain restrictions.
N) Fairness Within Classes - Running order by class within each course with fastest class first and then within each class juniors go first, then women (veterans then open), and finally men (veterans then open). By racing everyone within their class instead of having all of the women on a given course race first, you keep things fair so that the entire class races on similar course conditions instead of having 20-50 racers between the men and women of a given class. Start order within each subclass is based on points accumulated during current season with most points first.
O) Fair & Consistent Handicaps. Generally there are at usually 6 pacesetters (with a minimum of 4 pacesetters) that run each course to set the zero par time which allows elimination of outliers that would unfairly skew the zero par time.
P) Organize races at council ski trip locations during the ski trip to help recruit new racers for your league. (See FWSA Ski Week at www.fwsa.org
in the Travel section for an example.) Where possible try to avoid scheduling local races during the council's major ski trips.
Q) Share best practices with other leagues. Many ski councils have race leagues associated with them. Go the the council websites (Councils section at National Ski Club Federation www.skifederation.org
is a good starting point to find the councils) to get the league race chairperson contact info. Ask the race chairpersons your questions and offer to share the compilation of best practices when you are finished. I believe that Crescent Ski Council www.crescentskicouncil.org
and Ohio Valley Ski Council http://ovsc.org/
both use NASTAR handicaps and are listed as resorts in the Where To Race section of the NASTAR website. Review ideas at Club Ideawire section of the National Ski Club Newsletter www.skiclubnews.com
website. Publish the best practices compilation on your league website and submit an article about the best practices to the National Ski Club Newsletter.
Good luck and don't forget the fun/social element of racing.
What position/office do you hold with your race league?
What is your league doing to recruit new racers?
What are your clubs/teams doing to recruit new racers?