I write in response to Aldo Radimus’ thoughtful and informative article “Lets Face It Ski Racing Is Expensive”. I feel that a more accurate title would have been Ski Racing In America Is expensive.
My family lived in Switzerland for a year where my son skied on a regional U14 team. The town had a small but very good training center that had its own drag lift, snowmaking, lights and a field for parking. The lift was operated by a single attendant and only used when needed. In Summer and Fall his team regularly hopped in a van and drove two hours to a glacier where they would train for three, or four days at a time. This happened roughly six times throughout the course of the off season. Since we are not Swiss it was explained to us that we would have to pay a rather expensive fee – the charge for the full year was $600. Lodging and food was billed separately and was very reasonable.
I understand that skiing and tourism are important to the Swiss economy and the visibility that success on the World Cup brings ultimately benefits the Swiss economy. For this reason I presume my son’s program was government subsidized, but this is what we are up against! There is not the same financial barrier to entry in Switzerland, and most likely other European countries, that exists in America. In Europe it is a sport open to all.
In America our talent pool is limited to those who can afford the price of admission. Here the cost of ski racing is tens of thousands of dollars per year. Mr. Radamus points out that “prep period” travel costs for the serious racer may make up 31% of an athletes yearly expense. In spite of an abundance of high mountains in North America, Mount Hood is the only place available for summer skiing. American racers are forced to travel, at great expense, to summer and fall camps in Europe, New Zealand and South America. We should be looking toward providing out of season skiing here in North America.
Mr Radamus rightly points out that the sport becomes more expensive as success is achieved. For years I have watched American skiers, for lack of funding, retire well before reaching their prime. A college freshman is 18 years old, potentially eight to ten years from his or her skiing prime. The NCAA develops the best Basketball, Football and Baseball players in the world and offers a great subsidized training ground for skiers as well. Why is it we can’t find a way for the NCAA and the USST to work together? Outliers such as Mikaela Shiffrin, or Lebron James may be able to go directly to the big leagues, but the path to success for American athletes is through the NCAA. Why can’t the NCAA be a part of the pipeline?
— Randy Hoder
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