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Adult Racing Best Practices - Page 2

post #31 of 44


Holimonter, Sorry getting on late. Off fishing again. As a little background, wife and I ran International Firefighters Winter Games, at Tahoe (6 day event-firefighters from all over world) for 23 years and founded and ran (President) for 11 years of Code 3 ski club, fire and police race teams.

Through this experienceI learned 1) letting the event become just an Elite group damaged the overall appeal to new people and the not died in the wool racers. In any group of racers there will always be those that are better and these poeple will gravitate towards each other and somewhat isolate themselves from new racers, aspiring racers etc. Oftentimes this group will try to dictate how the club/organization/race/series etc. is run. If this occurs it will be often considered in a poor light by the non-elite racers.

2) At the IFWG we always had a novice class (irregardless of age) and this was very sucessfula nd popular by people new to racing. It was remarkable over the years how many of our "regular" attendee's started out as novice racers.

3)In our team competition a Novice medal/place was just as important for points as an expert racers medals. This avoided eliteism and made the new racers feel part of the team and they were.

Just a few thoughts on your inquiries on increasing racing attendance. We also had FUN. Special awards for; best fall, best outfit, best garage sale etc. etc. only limited by your lack of imagination.
post #32 of 44

League Ski Racing - Best Practices

League Ski Racing - Best Practices

I race in the Far West Race Association 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.


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 to find the U.S. ski councils. The Western Pennsylvania Ski Council 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 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 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 and Ohio Valley Ski Council 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 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?
post #33 of 44
Thread Starter 

A Million Thanks!

This post is exactly what I needed on a Friday afternoon. Now I can take all of the wisdom of this entire thread and come up with something over the weekend.

Thanks so much to all that contributed. If any of you are ever in Western NY, I would be honored to have you come out and race with us (I'll cover the race fee).

post #34 of 44
Originally Posted by SkierScott View Post

What is your league doing to recruit new racers?

What are your clubs/teams doing to recruit new racers?

The answer to both is NOTHING and our numbers are suffering to the point where we have 30-40 active racers. The post was made to gain the best practices in an attempt to turn things around (with due respect to the leagues past history).

Nice post, thanks for taking the time!!
post #35 of 44

Negotiate Perks??

LOL. Whatcha implying, N1???

Yes the HCP system at Wachusett loves the Cougers!!

Couger = fun fit and fine 35+ (40+ is better)ski babes with racing chops!!:

Our best racer by far is a 50 yo stud woman.

Calling all Cougers! Race with us. We'll cut you a "deal".

I have been courting Liquid Feet for a year. Oh yes - she will be ours!!
post #36 of 44
post #37 of 44
We did start to emphasize the social aspect of Masters in the past few years, and our numbers started to go up. Having a group of people to ski with and maybe learning a thing or two along the way is always a nice bonus. We didn't do anything differently for the most part, but we're marketing ourselves a little differently. We see ourselves as a compliment to the junior racing programs, allowing the adults to compete and the kids to cheer for a change. The only differences are that we are much slower and we get beer after every race.
post #38 of 44
Thread Starter 

Long Overdue Thanks!

Hello All,

I wanted to resurrect this old thread to say, "thanks" to all who contributed, fill you in on our progress, and ask for some more input.

Our race league, Niagara Adult Racing ( had a pretty good year last year. I saw lots of smiles and got some nice comments at the end of the year. Here's what we did:

We adopted the NASTAR scoring system. Lots of skepticism at the beginning because people thought that we were going to race "NASTAR" style courses. After the first race, those fears were gone, replaced with smiles and medals.

We made an effort to be more inviting and helpful to new racers.

We reduced the number of classes that we run to 5 from 7, making each class much more competitive.

We ran a race in tandem with USSA Masters and had 100 racers at one of our events.

For our class awards, we gave out engraved cow bells.

Now, on to this year. I'd really appreciate comments, suggestions, etc.

NASTAR is back for this year.

We launched our new website: We tried to make it a bit more user friendly and look better.

We signed up some awesome sponsors. For example, Timex is sponsoring the "match your time" award. If a racer matches their time EXACTLY in 2 runs, they win a watch.

We are going to run 2 races in tandem with Masters this year.

We have expanded our schedule to include EVERY Thursday night during the season and a few more weekend races.

We have a gentleman's agreement among the fastest racers (class 1) that we will wear shorts and softshells over our suits for weeknight races so as no to look too menacing and spandexy to new racers.

We plan on giving cowbells again this year.

So, thoughts? Suggestions?

Also, I would like to renew my offer to everyone that has contributed and will contribute to this thread - your first NAR race is on me... just send me a PM.

Heluva - this means you pal! Bring your baggy shorts and come drink.. er.. race with us (i'm callin' you out )

Here's to a great season!

post #39 of 44
Hey Holimonter-Hope to see you at some of the NY Masters races this year. I'll be "defending my title" in the "7's" (won only because the really fast guys didn't do enough races to qualify!). Shoot me your name so I can introduce myself.
post #40 of 44


Glad to hear your racing is going well.

Some ideas, if your budget allows:

Fun Prizes; best fall, best garage sale, best dressed, worst dressed, fall of the day, best start, best finish. Oldest racer etc.

For Example: Best Fall of the Event was a small (12"x16") homemade award two broken breakaways, ski fence in middle, adorned with broken old equip, like one goggle lense, a pole basket etc.

You can even make it a perpetual and at the end of the year inscribed on a msall plaque the winners name. He/she has to bring it back next year.

This is also a great way to give recognition to people who are not top racers, keeps their interest up. For instance: Most Inspirational racer, Racer that travelled the farthest to be there etc. Avoid giving any special awards to "injured" racers or you are setting a bad precedent for others that may be injured.

Just some ideas. worked for us.

We also had a perpetual award for the best Party skier/racer or team. A barstool, mounted on two sshortened ski's with a seat belt on the seat.

The good thing about these special awards is that they are cheap, very remembered, photogenic, funny and bring people together.
post #41 of 44
Thread Starter 

I sent you a PM. See you at Bristol!


Great ideas there! I really love the barstool idea and the "best crash" award. I am going to try to get some done for our kick-off party in mid-December.

We had a guy enter some b-netting last year at about 35mph standing up! I think he gets the "best crash"

Thanks for the suggestions!
post #42 of 44
Number one rule for a fun race...Start on time.

Races always run late. I know a lot of people who quit just because they got sick of standing around.

Get your timers ready, and stick to the schedule. Be loose with those who miss their start---let 'em go next, don't read them the riot act. People want to ski, not stand around all day.

I raced the very popular Colorado teamski series and they did the best job of that I ever saw in racing.
post #43 of 44
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
Number one rule for a fun race...Start on time.

Races always run late. I know a lot of people who quit just because they got sick of standing around.

Get your timers ready, and stick to the schedule. Be loose with those who miss their start---let 'em go next, don't read them the riot act. People want to ski, not stand around all day.
This is very true. The number one gripe (by far) amongst racers who quit is standing around waiting.

Tip: Have timing system set up and completely checked and double-checked before the start time of the first race of the season.
post #44 of 44
Well, after a year layoff I'm restarting my intramural racing program. The manager who irritated me enough to leave was fired, and his replacements have so far been receptive with providing me with a venue that can support racing. Basically that means snowmaking. Hard to run a race league on 4" of soft snow. The last year I was literally setting gates on whatever deep spot I could find so that the bases would hold and not wear down to dirt after a few racers.

Since the population is transient in nature (Air Force Base), losing a year meant at least half of my racers had moved on. Some of the die-hards are still around, and I've been trying to find new blood. A couple new racers have transferred in that show promise, and I expect we'll be in decent enough shape for the season. I'm trying to keep expectations low with the managers, and hopefully have a turnout that exceeds their wildest dreams.

The hill wiring was a mess, and I spent the better part of a day just sorting out gates and cleaning up the race shack. I was always the obsessive-compulsive one when it came to the race shack, so I guess those tendancies are starting to return.

Hopefully we won't be too worse for wear after the break. I'll know after a couple races if the league is sustainable.
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