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post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Hi everybody,

I have looked at racing gates my hole life, but it never caught an interest until now. I am 16, and my question is, is it too late? I am a level 9 skier, and would probably do very well in racing. Did any of the guys on the world cup start as late as me, or did they start as young kids. I'm balancing my options of competing in skiing, whether racing or my long-time dream big-mountain comps
post #2 of 30
I have no idea if there are any people (they would be outliers) on the WC circuit who started that late, but you absolutely should give racing a go. You'd find few big-mountain competitors over 25 who don't have a background in racing. I'm not saying this background is critical, but I will say the discipline that gates force is excellent training for any type of skiing.

Good luck with your skiing.
post #3 of 30
Walk before you can run. Give it a go, if you are good and dedicated and your parents fund it you can maybe make something of it. Never too late, just harder as you get older. Good luck.
post #4 of 30
I think it is more about natural ability then when you started.
post #5 of 30
Go for it! NASTAR is a good start, you can find it just about anywhere, easy to compare yourself against others in your age group, location...etc
post #6 of 30

Do it

Gavin, it’s never too late to start anything. If you’ve been looking at racing your whole life you should definitely try it. I would recommend talking to your local ski club immediately. The season is starting in a week or two. You should also go to www.ussa.org and see if there is any information there helpful to you. Each state has an organization that sanctions the racing. They all have websites with contacts and calendars. In NH it is www.nhara.org I know some pre-season camps are next week. The race season in NH starts Christmas week. You need training and coaching before you race. Your local ski area is the best place to look to see if they have a team or club. It’s a great sport. The friends you make racing will become life long buddies.

USSA ski racing is nothing like NASTAR of high school racing. USSA courses are longer and extremely technical. NASTAR is for fun. USSA is for fun too, but it is very competitive. The US Ski team looks at FIS points and USSA results for their pipeline.

Top level racers that go on to the US ski team usually come from ski academies. These guys ski 7 days a week. They train 4 or 5 days, and race 1 or 2 days. It can be done as a weekend skier. But that means training and racing 2 or 3 days per week. I don’t know where you live so I can’t tell you what the traveling distances are. In NH where I’ve been coaching. Your age group may have a race on Saturday at Mt Sunapee then a race Sunday at Wildcat. Take a look at a map they are 3 hours away from each other. If you race in the Sierras the teams travel to Utah to race. There is a commitment involved for your parents too. Somebody needs to help with races at your home resort. Most teams have a family commitment to put on the race. Some positions are extremely technical down to handing out and collecting the bibs. If your whole family skis it can be great.

Ski racing takes commitment and discipline. If you don’t try it now, you will always be asking yourself could that be me on the podium like Ted and Bode? Go for it!

Jim
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
I live in the central valley of CA. Im about an hour from a place called Dodge Ridge and about 2 hours from kirkwood. The racing program at the local place seems very low level, I can smoke anybody on that team that is my age or older. Thats why Ive been redisent to spend the $2000 to join the team. Is there any way to race as a privateer, not on one of these lame local teams?
post #8 of 30
There are Masters programs at a bunch of Tahoe areas, but I think you have to be 18 to join. They're mostly for adults who used to race and want to keep at it. At least that's my impression.

Does your HS have a team? If so, join it and take advantage of the inexpensive coaching you'll get. If not, I'd guess you are looking at competing with one of the on-hill comp teams. You may think they are lame and that the skiers aren't fast, but I think you'd find some rather surprising exceptions to that rule. And at first I think you'll find that even though you can ski faster than many of them, a few of those "slow" kids can smoke you in the gates.

If you don't want to spend the money on joining a team, then find someplace where you can run gates on a regular basis. Nastar seems to have all but vacated CA so I'm not sure what those options are.
post #9 of 30
Gavin,

I looked at the club roster at USSA.org. It looks like Dodge Ridge’s club only goes to J3’s. these athletes are a little younger than you. The club is small and what I’ve seen here is the older athletes move on to another club with only J1’s and J2’s. Call the club and see where the older athletes compete.

It may be that if you are the fastest skier on the team you may not be the fastest skier on race day. Remember the team travels to another resort for races. There may be almost 125 men racing and another 80 women. Men go after the women on the same course. The lowest seeded racers go last. If you are new you won’t have any seed points. You start with 990 and go down. All the 990’s start sorted by last name.

You should call now the season is almost here. You’ll need to get you equipment to race. Peruse the www.ussa.org site to see what you’ll need. You know you need skis and boots. There are minimum ski lengths for GS and SL. There are specific helmet requirements. You’ll want shin guards, pole protectors (for your hands, not your poles). A chin guard is nice for SL it saves your teeth. This is nice especially if you have or have had braces.

Racing is great fun if you like to go fast and don’t scare easy.

Jim
post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help guys, it sounds like fun and is a lot to think about because of the comitment and pricing.
post #11 of 30
Nastar and High School racing will get you started with a min. cash outlay. I don't care what all the USSA people say turning the ski is turning the ski and racing is racing. Talent will stand out no matter the arena, at high school races you will have the chance to ski against USSA racers on somewhat similar courses[ depending on your hill set up]. That should let you know how you compare before dropping the big coin on a season of USSA travel. Nastar and HS racing aren't the pipeline to the US ski team, but they are good bench marks.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
Hi everybody,

I have looked at racing gates my hole life, but it never caught an interest until now. I am 16, and my question is, is it too late? I am a level 9 skier, and would probably do very well in racing. Did any of the guys on the world cup start as late as me, or did they start as young kids. I'm balancing my options of competing in skiing, whether racing or my long-time dream big-mountain comps
Set realistic goals. You're not going to the world cup, period, end of story. World class ski racers eat, sleep, and breathe training. They dedicate their lives to ski racing and have little time to do anything else. So bring your expectations down a notch and you'll find your goals more easily accessible.

If you want to race, then join a local race team that can train you and allows you to compete with other racers in your age division. If you learn to love racing and improve then go to a college with a ski team and continue on from there.
post #13 of 30
You are well behind the curve for the top HS racers. You are also pretty far away from your training venue. How many day's per week can you train? Further, your equipment may not be optimized for racing. This could present a pretty significant additional expense.

Being awesome and being awesome in gates are two different things.

If you can find a local club team and are willing to spend the cash, then I say go for it. If nothing else it will improve your skiing.

Otherwise, wait a few years for beer league options and keep it fun and social for now.
post #14 of 30
I second setting realistic and achievable goals. Making the world cup without ever racing seems pretty optimistic.

Nobody mentioned fitness- I wouldn't imagine that is an issue at your age, however I won't make that assumption. Most top ski racing athletes (any age) have and are deeply involved with some form of dry land training, if your not then you are behind the ball.

You also lack the experience that kids who have been racing for many years have gained. Things as how to overcome Conditions, course set's, running last seed, different terrain, different areas, competitors, wax, etc... It all sounds minimal, but kicking tail on your home hill becomes VERY different with all of the above factored in.

best of luck, give it a go at any level and always shoot for your personal best- whatever that may be.
post #15 of 30
Third on the expectations, as if you get more into this, you should do it because it's fun and enjoyable. Sure, you can establish goals, and stretch to hit them, etc. But having a bit of a reality check is important. The USST, and that level of competition is one of the smallest pinnacles in sport. The unfortunate reality is that the people who are headed in that direction have been in almost all cases skiing since they could walk, and racing since they entered the first grade. Well before 16, it's become a year-round sport for them, with a tremndous amount of ski-specific work and training. The expense is astronomical.

Now, having said that, there are opportunities to ski race all over the country. It's a neat sport, and you can continue, god willing, into your 80's. You could race NASTAR, get a USSA card and ski as an independent in local USSA races. You don't need to have a club affiliation. If you go onto college, there's a ton of club team racing and varsity level USCSA racing which is not like the NCAA D1 racing. The top USCSA racers are very talented and experienced, but some teams have a good number of racers who picked up the sport in college. They have a blast!

I'd be thinking about finding the right opportunity to get some coaching, including the conditioning part of the sport. That would be important , where you have not raced. I'd also get some advice about equipment. Get yourself in the right boots first. You can find very, very good one year old race skis for less than half the original racer price. Based on budget, you can stretch a buck a long way with race stuff if you go used.

If you end up loving racing, and love the thrill of it, you'll find plenty of opportunity to test yourself, work on it, and enjoy the competition. I have seen many weekend racers, who are good kids and good athletes, having raced or trained every weekend and vacation week {and some in the summer}, try to jump into this "full-time" as a senior or "PG" at a ski academy. They have dreamed that they can somehow catch up and put themselves in a position to ski at the D1 level or higher. It's pretty much impossible to catch up to the kids who have been on snow full time for 4-5 years at that point, and who have had intense year-round dryland training. More and more budding racers are home schooled as younger kids, so it might be 7-8 years. Whatever it is, the miles that they have under their feet are huge. You can make enormous gains, but you can't catch up.

I find that many people feel that this is unfortunate, but the days of the kid who plays other sports, and commutes to the mountains to ski on weekends being competitive at the highest levels are long gone. The only kids who play football and ski race at that level live in places like Jackson Hole. Maybe. It's unfortunate, but it's the same in many other sports. All specialization, starting very young. I ski raced and played two other varsity sports in college. Those days ended a long time ago. Every kid on the ski team is now a ski academy graduate, and most skied full time for a year or two after that before college.

Now I have seen kids who are very good skiers, and exceptional athletes try ski racing at your age and older. I know some kids who were real good free ride skiers, who tried forerunning some races, then raced a bit, and picked up on it quickly. Some have had a very steep and solid learning curve, to the point where they could do real well as USCSA skiers in college. I'd look into that as a longer range goal.

My advice is to jump into it at a level that makes sense, work at it, make new friends, and hopefully just kill it. Have fun. Don't beat yourself up by reaching for something that's a one in ten million chance. Good luck.
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
Again, thanks for the help, but I never said I was shooting for world cup. I was just trying to compare to somebody of a higher level. But once again, thanks for the input, you guys make it seem as if I should just stick to freeriding, big mountain, etc. This is the exact type of info I was looking for, just so I wouldn't spend the thousands for a worthless cause
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
Again, thanks for the help, but I never said I was shooting for world cup. I was just trying to compare to somebody of a higher level. But once again, thanks for the input, you guys make it seem as if I should just stick to freeriding, big mountain, etc. This is the exact type of info I was looking for, just so I wouldn't spend the thousands for a worthless cause
You're 16 and I know there's pressure to perform at that age. Try to remember something while you're skiing; you're not out there to impress anybody else, you're out there to enjoy what skiing has to offer you. In my opinion, it's better that your skiing encompasses all arenas; park, big mountain, cruising/carving, bumps, etc, rather than just try to be the best at one. I think it's more satisfying to be able to ski proficiently the entire mountain, front and back, than just be good at one part.

Don't narrow your vision down to just racing or big mountain, do it all and enjoy it for you, not anyone else.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
You're 16 and I know there's pressure to perform at that age. Try to remember something while you're skiing; you're not out there to impress anybody else, you're out there to enjoy what skiing has to offer you. In my opinion, it's better that your skiing encompasses all arenas; park, big mountain, cruising/carving, bumps, etc, rather than just try to be the best at one. I think it's more satisfying to be able to ski proficiently the entire mountain, front and back, than just be good at one part.

Don't narrow your vision down to just racing or big mountain, do it all and enjoy it for you, not anyone else.
Sound advice. Racing can be a great avenue to reach the next level in all aspects of skiing.

JF
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
Set realistic goals. You're not going to the world cup, period, end of story. World class ski racers eat, sleep, and breathe training. They dedicate their lives to ski racing and have little time to do anything else. So bring your expectations down a notch and you'll find your goals more easily accessible.

If you want to race, then join a local race team that can train you and allows you to compete with other racers in your age division. If you learn to love racing and improve then go to a college with a ski team and continue on from there.
Gavin, Chaos is right-on. If you decide to try racing after reading these posts, I would suggest joining the Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation Ski Team. They will train you. Besides USSA, our area has the 'Tahoe League', which is a great place to start (sort'a like the major and minor league). As others have posted, keep in mind that it will be a huge time and financial commitment for you and your family. My son was an International USSA/FIS Nor Am level racer that attended Truckee High School. Truckee's ski team kids had school until 12:30 pm, then trained everyday until 4:00 pm. Truckee High is on the Quarter System, so during his senior year (when he was traveling non-stop) he took the two winter Quarters off to race...big commitment! You would also need a minimum of four pairs of skis (two SL and two GS). That's not even taking SG and DH in consideration. I cannot stress how tough it really is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post
Third on the expectations, as if you get more into this, you should do it because it's fun and enjoyable. Sure, you can establish goals, and stretch to hit them, etc. But having a bit of a reality check is important. The USST, and that level of competition is one of the smallest pinnacles in sport. The unfortunate reality is that the people who are headed in that direction have been in almost all cases skiing since they could walk, and racing since they entered the first grade. Well before 16, it's become a year-round sport for them, with a tremndous amount of ski-specific work and training. The expense is astronomical.

Now, having said that, there are opportunities to ski race all over the country. It's a neat sport, and you can continue, god willing, into your 80's. You could race NASTAR, get a USSA card and ski as an independent in local USSA races. You don't need to have a club affiliation. If you go onto college, there's a ton of club team racing and varsity level USCSA racing which is not like the NCAA D1 racing. The top USCSA racers are very talented and experienced, but some teams have a good number of racers who picked up the sport in college. They have a blast!

I'd be thinking about finding the right opportunity to get some coaching, including the conditioning part of the sport. That would be important , where you have not raced. I'd also get some advice about equipment. Get yourself in the right boots first. You can find very, very good one year old race skis for less than half the original racer price. Based on budget, you can stretch a buck a long way with race stuff if you go used.

If you end up loving racing, and love the thrill of it, you'll find plenty of opportunity to test yourself, work on it, and enjoy the competition. I have seen many weekend racers, who are good kids and good athletes, having raced or trained every weekend and vacation week {and some in the summer}, try to jump into this "full-time" as a senior or "PG" at a ski academy. They have dreamed that they can somehow catch up and put themselves in a position to ski at the D1 level or higher. It's pretty much impossible to catch up to the kids who have been on snow full time for 4-5 years at that point, and who have had intense year-round dryland training. More and more budding racers are home schooled as younger kids, so it might be 7-8 years. Whatever it is, the miles that they have under their feet are huge. You can make enormous gains, but you can't catch up.

I find that many people feel that this is unfortunate, but the days of the kid who plays other sports, and commutes to the mountains to ski on weekends being competitive at the highest levels are long gone. The only kids who play football and ski race at that level live in places like Jackson Hole. Maybe. It's unfortunate, but it's the same in many other sports. All specialization, starting very young. I ski raced and played two other varsity sports in college. Those days ended a long time ago. Every kid on the ski team is now a ski academy graduate, and most skied full time for a year or two after that before college.

Now I have seen kids who are very good skiers, and exceptional athletes try ski racing at your age and older. I know some kids who were real good free ride skiers, who tried forerunning some races, then raced a bit, and picked up on it quickly. Some have had a very steep and solid learning curve, to the point where they could do real well as USCSA skiers in college. I'd look into that as a longer range goal.

My advice is to jump into it at a level that makes sense, work at it, make new friends, and hopefully just kill it. Have fun. Don't beat yourself up by reaching for something that's a one in ten million chance. Good luck.
Great info, but unfortunately California does not have NASTAR racing. Also, you would need to live in a mountain community to join a high school ski team. This limits your options.

FYI...Muleski, not all USST members are academy graduates. Marco Sullivan and Travis Gangong attended Tahoe Public High School. Stacey Cook and Tim Jitloff attended Truckee Public High School and Julia Mancuso was home-schooled. Many Tahoe area high-level athletes are home-schooled. There could be other current team members that did not attend academies as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
You're 16 and I know there's pressure to perform at that age. Try to remember something while you're skiing; you're not out there to impress anybody else, you're out there to enjoy what skiing has to offer you. In my opinion, it's better that your skiing encompasses all arenas; park, big mountain, cruising/carving, bumps, etc, rather than just try to be the best at one. I think it's more satisfying to be able to ski proficiently the entire mountain, front and back, than just be good at one part.

Don't narrow your vision down to just racing or big mountain, do it all and enjoy it for you, not anyone else.
Absolutely!!! Again, Chaos is right-on. Enjoy!
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post
There are Masters programs at a bunch of Tahoe areas, but I think you have to be 18 to join. They're mostly for adults who used to race and want to keep at it. At least that's my impression.
The Far West Masters age requirement is 21 years of age. Only a few Masters actually grew up ski racing and were 'junior racers'...maybe that has something to do with burnout? Happens often in this sport.

Quote:
Nastar seems to have all but vacated CA so I'm not sure what those options are.
Correct!
post #21 of 30
If you have an inkling to start racing, do it!!

It will make you a 10x better skier, if you want to be an extreme skier it will give you a great technical base for that too.

Sounds like you want something close to USSA level but perhaps not the huge cost investment.

The idea that you need 2 pairs of skis for each discipline as a first time 16yr old racer is rubbish, as a general statement.

If you race in USSA races, you will need skis that conform to the J1/J2 regulations as a 16yr old. However, if you can find a non-USSA program, you should be fine on your current skis for the first year if they are a good upper level all mountain ski. 2nd year you get Slalom skis, third year full on GS skis. Now this is assuming there is some non-USSA race league in your area, there may not be in which case you get to pony up the $$$.

FWIW I know many people that started racing in college and love it. If you can't afford the time and money commitment for a USSA program, and can't find a non-USSA program, see if you can get in on a training camp that a USSA program runs for its kids, typically they'll do a multi day camp around christmas, thanksgiving, or other convenient holidays. You might get stuck with a younger age group, but who cares. Then in 2yrs when you go to college maybe there will be a USCSA club you can join and race.

Good luck.
post #22 of 30
Dude race on, race hard, don't get hurt and do your best. Granted it may not be very realistic to try and be on the USST (but its damn sure not impossible), but you know what, every actor you see in Hollywood was laughed at and made fun of when they revealed they wanted to be in pictures....that was until they landed their first big gig. Being a successful actor is 10 fold more difficult than being on the US ski team (due to the sheer number of people trying to get there) yet people do it sometimes against all odds and at all ages....its not different for anything else. BTW, this is why so many actors disassociate themselves with everyone once they become famous, not because they feel that they are too good, but because they remember the haters on the way up. Worst comes to worst you can do Skiercross, which is still new enough that a good skier with drive and talent can get into it on a WC level. Once again good luck with your decisions.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proneax View Post
If you have an inkling to start racing, do it!!

It will make you a 10x better skier, if you want to be an extreme skier it will give you a great technical base for that too.

Sounds like you want something close to USSA level but perhaps not the huge cost investment.

The idea that you need 2 pairs of skis for each discipline as a first time 16yr old racer is rubbish, as a general statement.

If you race in USSA races, you will need skis that conform to the J1/J2 regulations as a 16yr old. However, if you can find a non-USSA program, you should be fine on your current skis for the first year if they are a good upper level all mountain ski. 2nd year you get Slalom skis, third year full on GS skis. Now this is assuming there is some non-USSA race league in your area, there may not be in which case you get to pony up the $$$.

FWIW I know many people that started racing in college and love it. If you can't afford the time and money commitment for a USSA program, and can't find a non-USSA program, see if you can get in on a training camp that a USSA program runs for its kids, typically they'll do a multi day camp around christmas, thanksgiving, or other convenient holidays. You might get stuck with a younger age group, but who cares. Then in 2yrs when you go to college maybe there will be a USCSA club you can join and race.

Good luck.
Gavin needs to learn how to race FIRST, that's why I suggested he join the Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation Ski Team, the closest Far West Ski club to where he lives and they have qualified coaches to train him. Yes, he could race 'SOME' USSA races without a club affiliate, but starting out as a second year J2, he will be 'EATEN UP ALIVE'. I also suggested he begin racing in the 'Tahoe League', a non-USSA program. This league is getting highly competitive as well, where even the J4/5s own multiple pairs of skis, use fluorocarbon powder overlays, and wear downhill suits. KSEF will help prepare him for all this. Since Gavin lives in the west, he needs to know what it's like racing in the west, not the east.

Here is what is expected of a USSA J2 Western Region athlete:





Below is a 14 year old USSA J3 Western Region athlete.



An athlete 'MUST' be a USSA member and be 'INVITED' to USSA training camps.

Gavin, if you decide to participate in USSA races go to Far West Skiing to join the USSA/Far West Division and for additional information.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Being a successful actor is 10 fold more difficult than being on the US ski team (due to the sheer number of people trying to get there)

Come on Richie.. for real?

By my count there are less than 50 positions on the US Alpine team- 10 "A", 16 "B", 10 "C" and 11 Development per the USST website. Now look at the thousands of kids looking to populate those 50 spots. I could go on and on, but for someone at age 16 who has no race experience the odds are incredibly stacked against them.


I think that realistically, this cat's shot at the US team and World Cup are one in many million. I'm not saying he should not try, or that he shouldn't get into some form of racing but I also think that some of the discussion in this thread has gone WAY beyond what needs to be considered for entry level competition. Do you need 4 pair of skis? Nope. Do you need floro waxes? Nope. Do they help? Sure do. Will you be top 25 without them, especially considering you will start last seed- probably not.

My opinion is to set reasonable goals and have fun with it, nothing more nothing less.
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SJB View Post
...but I also think that some of the discussion in this thread has gone WAY beyond what needs to be considered for entry level competition. Do you need 4 pair of skis? Nope. Do you need floro waxes? Nope. Do they help? Sure do. Will you be top 25 without them, especially considering you will start last seed- probably not.

My opinion is to set reasonable goals and have fun with it, nothing more nothing less.
True, Gavin doesn't need to have four pairs of race skis, etc. I just wanted to point out and emphasize what his competition would have and what is 'normal' and 'expected' in USSA racing in the west. He will have tons of fun on the Kirkwood Ski Team and that's where he needs to start. To one day race in USSA and NSCSA events would be a reasonable goal.
post #26 of 30
SJB summed this up well, in his last line of his most recent post: set reasonable goals and have fun with it. My impression is that all of the posters have had the good intent of helping Gavin find the right outlet to try his hand at racing, and to do so in a way that would challenge him, let him learn, and enjoy it.

The thread also points out that there is an incredibly wide horizon of junior ski racing in this country. Gavin started the thread by asking if there were any current World Cup racers who started to race at his age, 16, or later. Those of us who may have had a lot of recent experience likely thought that "this young guy needs a dose of reality, so that he doesn't get crushed, yet is encouraged to give this a try."

The fact is that the 16 year old skiing on a H.S. team in a state like New Jersey is ski racing, challenging himself, competing against peers, and having fun. There are also 16 year olds who are on snow 6 days a week through the winter, skiing on a year-round basis, coached by the best coaches in the country. They are competing in a schedule of FIS and likely Nor-Ams, against men, thoughout the US and Canada . Their peers are the kids who they compete with at the US Senior Nationals.

In reality it's those 16 year olds who will be vying for a spot on the USST, and more likely skiing on a NCAA D1 ski team in college. And for them, and their families, the investment in energy, focus, time, and resources of all types are very large to say the least.

There are coaching and program fees, and for those not able to do this from their home, room & board and tution {which is almost as much as a top private college}. The equipment needs are absolutely there, and only increase with age, ability and results. Wax, tuning stuff, and all of the equipment needs are huge. Race entry fees and travel {including airfare} only increase as you reach high and do better. Summer camp costs in places like Chile, and New Zealand are steep. There are late spring and fall trips as well.

It's a wide, wide spectrum. All that I think we were trying to do with Gavin is to encourage him to give it a try in a setting that would be right, considering a lot of factors. And at the same time, explain where the best 16 year olds are, what their skiing entails and some of the investment and sacrifice required.

Starting out with 990 USSA points, and trying work to the point where you have a competitive FIS point profile for your age group is just a brutal road to travel. That's been touched on a bit.

I have seen a number of kids and families enter this late in the game, without having been given an honest picture of the landscape, only to have the kids crushed and the parents disappointed. From an Eastern perspective, every year you see a few older kids enroll in a ski academy because they either want to learn to be a ski racer, or move to the mountains to ski full time, as juniors or seniors, having raced weekends up until then. I have listened to parents mention college ski aspirations that will be impossible to attain in that short a timetable. If they think that the kid will be skiing in the carnival circuit for a top NCAA D1 team, they will be crushed. There are about 50 of each gender doing it in the East. They come from all over the country and Canada. In the West, it expands to include all of the world, many who have had WC starts. However, if it's approached with realistic expectations, it can be a great and fun experience. There are hundreds of college race options in the US.

It's all about understanding the big picture as well as the details, finding the right fit and program, and having fun with it. To suggest that a 16 year old could start to ski race, and at some point possibly reach the USST just isn't realistic. To suggest that he could have a ton of fun and real accomplishment with ski racing is completely realistic. Depends on the level of ski racing, etc.

I would like to come to the defense of the "4 skis" comment. At my home mountain, we have one of the largest weekend junior programs in the country. Many of those racing competitively at the J4 USSA level {11-12} have 4 pairs of skis. You beat up trainers over a long season, and race faster on clean racers. It's a very gear intensive sport. I won't go into the numbers for the 17-20 year olds who are skiing all four events. Huge.

Gavin, ABSOLUTELY give this a try, and have a blast doing it. Just pick an entry point where you'll relly enjoy having some success. Listen to olylady; she's had a lot of experience.

One last thought. Unless you've been through this, or are immersed in it, you may have a hard time grasping it. And you're probably shaking your head thinking this is nuts. It can be.

Sorry to be so long winded.
post #27 of 30
Thanks Muleski...I think you made it ALL very clear! Hats off to you.
Now we can all hope to see Gavin on the Kirkwood Ski Team having a great time...

Cheers
post #28 of 30
Sounds like that would be a GREAT plan!

Good luck Gavin!

And thanks.....
post #29 of 30
Yes Mule and Oy, I believe we are on the same page. I just don't want young Gavin to run out and plunk down 5 large on a quiver of race skis, wax, suits, etc only to find that he's not having fun!!

I think bringing people of ALL ages into racing is important. I can't even count the number of times I have ridden the lift with folks during our masters league nights that have asked "how do I do that??" while pointing to our course. The sport can't count only on the to support it, we need to bring in everyone with an interest some way- be it NASTAR, or USSA. Obviously the investment and competitiveness of the program must be suited to the individual- someone coming out as a first timer to a USSA event will be overwhelmed.

Glad to see everyone's on board with a positive spirit, Gavin- keep us updated on your progress!
post #30 of 30

Advice for starting racing at 16

Advice for starting racing at 16

1) Get on the best team that will take you. You will learn much from your team mates as well as coaches. Good Coaching is very important.

2) Focus on training. Only do a couple of local races. Don't waste time and money traveling to races as a rookie.

3) Stick with Slalom and GS your first season. You're a rookie who thinks he's really good. A recipe for injury in SG or DH.

4) Skis: you will need a pair of slalom skis and a pair of GS skis (maybe non-FIS compliant Race carvers for GS ski). That's it. Ditch the Fat skis. Learn to ski crud and powder on race skis. Switching skis a lot will slow down your learning.

Lastly be humble and work hard. Help your coaches set up and take down courses. Make them like you and want to help you.

Possible goals: qualify to race a FIS race by senior year in HS.

PS: I had a college Teammate who started racing at 16 got serious at 17 and was racing NorAms at 20 (as a Post Grad at major NE ski academy). However, I have never heard of anyone doing better than that starting that late.
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