Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Skimo Etiquette

The continued existence of the sport in North America is dependent on 3 groups of people:

-The resort staff: We need their permission to race, we need ski patrol support, meeting rooms, and groomers not running over course markings. Having the race go is just a small fraction of their weekend operations. They have to keep the rest of the public happy.

-The organizer: Someone has to set the course, wrangle up the sponsors and volunteers.

-The racers: If nobody shows up, why bother putting on a race?

The racers have to make sure that they don't piss off the first two groups.

We are fortunate that we don't have to deal with the hassle of leashes or the expense/complexity/weight of brakes. Yard saleing above the parking lot and having your runaway skis hit cars puts this in jeopardy. Take that extra second to make sure your bindings are on properly after a bootpack (or organizers should put in a short skinning section before the descent). Make sure your skis are mounted properly. Make sure that your skis don't fall off your backpack. The skiing public at the resort are required to have leashes.

 Should race courses be easy to encourage more crossover athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, XC skiers) to compete, or should they be tough to prepare the elite athletes for hard European courses and and draw in more local ski tourers? What about the short courses? While only a handful of top athletes end up racing in Europe, I think that the tougher terrain does a better job of showcasing the sport, avoids more of the skiing public, keeps the downhill speeds reasonable, and is more representative of what skiers want to ski when they go out for fun. Skimo newbies with a background in downhill and backcountry skiing progress to higher levels of the sport. So the courses go down double black diamonds. How steep is this run? "If you have to ask..." I would like to see more vertical races or first climb primes pop up so the crossover athletes can see how they stack up. Take a ski lesson and spend some time skiing the resort so that ski patrol doesn't view the racers as a liability.

If the sign says that you can't bring your gear into the lodge, don't bring your gear into the lodge.

I'm an advocate for free public access to crown land but if a resort is hosting a race, make sure they are cool with uphill traffic if you plan on training there before or after the race.

Thank the volunteers and the organizer. If the organizer chooses to impose a time cutoff, it's so that the volunteers can eventually go inside and enjoy their well earned nachos and beer. I would suggest doing at least one ski touring day around the same vertical gain as the race before attempting the big course. There are always great prizes for winning the recreational course!

Don't piss off the skiing public. Adhere to the skier's responsibility code. Don't take up extra space in the lodge or the parking lot.

Unfortunately, until the profile of the sport is raised, we have to tiptoe and be on our best behaviour.

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