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Relivant Article On Ski Racing

Atom Ant

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Back when I was paying more attention, it seemed like most of the coaches relied on quantity of training exposure, rather than quality, or examining needs specific to the particular athletes.

Time was cheaper then, and spending money (particularly when it's not your own) is easier in the near term than doing the hard work of cultivating/fostering/enhancing athletic movement.

The author (and Plaschy) make some good points.   One of the better tennis coaches once said that the worst thing you could do to a young athlete was let them swing at a ball before they knew how to move about with a racquet.

Similarly, there's little gained by putting a skier in a course when they can barely ski to the level required.

Unfortunately, the trend in the ski industry is to ignore the obvious while clinging to self-delusion.


Edited by Beckmann AG
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I think it is a relevant article to snowboard racing as well.  

Firstly, I understand the desire to give your child every advantage in the sport.  I can't knock any parent's over that and cannot say I wouldn't do the same for my kid.  However, there is an irony within this dynamic: your kid may rise, due to parental investment, to the top of a extremely smaller heap of talent.  In other words, your kid may be the "best", not the best, because the best cannot afford to compete.  This ain't basketball.

At the highest level or near-highest level of competition-- I don't have a problem with the extremely expensive training and equipment.  We're talking the elite level--makes sense.  However, the trickle down effect this equipment has had is rendering an already expensive sport nearly unattainable for anyone without tens of thousands of dollars in disposable income.  This creates the dynamic I mention above: there are the "best" and then there are the best.  

(Don't get me wrong here... there are of course times where the best is simply and actually the best.  However, I would argue that the "batting average" is far lower than it would otherwise be in terms of the strength of the riders overall).

Some suggestions I have:

  • Since USASA is the main feeder of talent in the US: ban plates in all non-Open class racing.  Open class is the "jump-up" class where racers get to see how they stack up against FIS racers at Nationals.  So makes sense plates would be a factor; prior to this plates add minimal value to a developing racer and an extreme amount of financial stress to parents.  In fact, since this removes a "speed multiplier" from the non-Open equation, I would argue it will better identify faster riders as the main defining factor will be skill, with the exception perhaps of board-related differences (however, you could argue teaching a youth rider to focus on board dynamics alone is also a good thing).  
  • Better funding from US Ski and Snowboard... duh.  Also, for Alpine, not going to happen.
  • Programs that focus more on the "must dos" and bring things back to basics thereby reducing participation costs.  Under the theory that some of the best are priced out, this may allow certain programs to "graduate" high level riders relative to other more expensive programs--calling attention to their programs and attracting more developing riders.

Nothing can reduce the costs of the boards and bindings to any material degree short of much higher participation across all types and levels in Alpine.  Not holding my breath.  So is what it is.  Further, should a company come out with a full-on low cost setup it would require sacrifices that would ultimately render it slower vs. the current tech (Donek has a board in this area, to their credit).  I don't believe many would opt for the cheaper setup if they feel it will cost their kids races--regarding that dynamic, the genie is out of the bottle .  So again, is what it is.  Banning plates is at least a tangible, clear rule many would agree to but there is a limit to the logic and open the sport (albeit slightly) to a broader income pool, I believe.  

On a final, dour note: I think snowboard racing (and ski racing) are ultimately going to experience a massive decrease in global participation and particularly in the US due to outside factors beyond the scope of what those involved in racing in either sport can influence.  Global warming and water shortages and the subsequent regulations will drive up ticket / participation prices and the "snow belt" in some areas will move further and further away from population centers (also consolidating resort options).  As this occurs, people will drop out or reduce participation which reduces sales volumes, consolidates manufacturers, and increases prices.  Eventually, skiing and snowboarding will become winter correlates to sports like wake boarding, sky-diving, motor sports, and so on... there will be participation but it will be for the privileged and will be very niche.   Technically, under this logic, right now is the best it will ever be: somewhat in the budget for most people with the best equipment there has ever been (even in the mainstream).  


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