Let's stick with this part of the discussion...
Country club set??? Are they the only folks with money? Sheesh... I guess I missed that memo as well...
I understand the principal of the argument, but at some point if the organization can't (or won't) fully fund the athlete it has to come from someplace. Fundamentally I agree that the USST is broken and I'm not sure at what level or who is to blame.
- A donor, or multiple donors, will step forward, and come up with the current B and C team funding, and the issue will disappear...until next season.
- The funding won't appear, and the racers-without-funds on the B and C teams won't be able to continue this season...so the USST new criteria for winning at every level is "can you afford to ski at every level?"...and rich kids with points that wouldn't qualify them for a Smartwool race will represent the US on the Noram, Euro Cup, and maybe even the World Cup.
- The USST will magically find the needed funds.
Those are the possibilities, as I see them, for this season. After that, your guess is as good as mine. There's been a persistent theme throughout this thread and a similar forum on the Ski Racing site which is "If it costs more money to race for the US Team than it does as an independent...what do I care about the US Team? I may not have Bode Miller's money, but at least if I raise my own funding, I know how it's going to get spent."
So I think a major change is in the works. I think it's entirely possible that either the USST will fall on its own sword if the "rich kids only need apply" scenario happens, or possibly there won't even be a USST on the Euro and WC next season. How would this affect the World Cup? Maybe not at all. I'm sure the Austrians could care less whether the US ever fields a team again. But I think the FIS has got major problems of its own, and I'm not sure they'd like to see a major player like the USST off the circuit.
What kind of problems is the FIS experiencing? For example, as reported in Ski Racing last spring, the ski/binding/boot manufacturers had a discussion, which I don't think went anywhere, with the FIS to the tune of "we, the equipment manufacturers, are funding a large portion of this circuit and we are going broke." If a major force like the USST is suddenly off the WC, and maybe a few more teams for similar reasons...well, that's less exposure for the ski manufacturers, the competition and value of WC wins is diluted, and so forth.
I think ski racing is going to endure, in some form, but it's going to have to make a lot more sense, and dollars and sense, to not just the athletes but the supporting cast as well...and whether that's no more national teams, time for factory teams, or no more national teams, just local/regional teams, I don't know...