October Alpine Update
Copper Mountain Opening
After a busy off-season of planning and limited skiing due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns from last spring, it is exciting to see the cold weather returning to our mountains! Copper Mountain in Colorado is now open for training and the U.S. Ski Team is starting to arrive for its annual fall camps. Members of the National Development Group will be on the ground during the first half of November, training alongside Sasha Rearick and Marjan Cernigoj’s NorAm Teams, as part of the first development programming being run this year.
Last spring’s 2020 U.S. Nationals have been rescheduled and will take place at Copper November 16-22 with all four events being contested. Most of the National Team athletes will be there, so the races are sure to be highly competitive. Directly afterward, we will be hosting national development SG training on the Copper Mountain Speed Center to provide our young athletes with a unique opportunity to train on one of the best venues in the country. Space is limited: coaches should be in touch with Chip Knight if they are interested in attending with their athletes.
COVID-19 has reshaped our world and much of what we do these days. As an individual outdoor sport, we are confident that we can operate in a safe manner. Still, we all must strive to do our part and stay socially distanced so our ski resorts can remain open through the winter. In particular, we must take care to protect ourselves and each other at natural points of congestion: lift lines, start and finish areas, as well as lodges and other indoor spaces.
Late this summer, we released our Alpine Domestic Competition Guidance, working in partnership with resorts and clubs to outline a way forward for the season ahead. Major themes include the requirement of a COVID Coordinator as part of each competition, a reduction in field sizes, limiting unnecessary travel, and delaying the start of the season. One silver lining is that we anticipate athletes will be able to train more in the coming months, which will stimulate long-term development in the sport. We recently held a Return to Sport webinar about the overall direction we’re taking, discussing everything from our “bubble” approach with the National Team to specific efforts we are taking within each discipline. Check out the recording for anyone who missed it!
Fall FIS Meetings
During FIS meetings earlier this month, the main word being used is “flexibility” as our sport tries to adapt to an ever-challenging international environment with different access and quarantine regulations between each country. The World Cup showed it could successfully operate with the recent opening races in Soelden, but the difficulty with travel rules and restrictions are magnified when athletes try to cross borders for lower levels of competition. We are engaged with our Canadian partners to try to schedule NorAm events later in the season and we will communicate that schedule as soon as we can confirm events in the calendar. Recognizing that access to FIS racing could be unequal in different parts of the world, FIS Council has approved a “two-year” Base List for the 2021-22 season, which will include results from both the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 seasons.
SkillsQuest - Fitness
As fall winds down, many athletes are completing SkillsQuest - Fitness (SQF) physical conditioning testing at their respective clubs. We were not able to organize national or regional testing events due to COVID-19 mass-gathering concerns, but we have encouraged clubs to organize local SQF testing and to submit athletes’ scores to our national database for tracking purposes. The National Team continues to maintain the overall scoring standard of 550 points for women and 700 points for men. Many of our athletes at that level are far exceeding those thresholds. For anyone unfamiliar with the SQF protocol and tests, please watch Calin Butterfield’s recent educational webinar and download the new SQF manual for a hands-on reference.
Please be aware that because of pandemic concerns the U.S. Ski & Snowboard membership deadline has been extended to November 1. Sign up by this Sunday to avoid late fees!