After reading the article on the arguments over race starts it is nice to see we still have coaches capable of making great decisions in Ski Racing.

Casey Puckett has a great mind set and lays out why interfering with the coaches, athletes and parents plan is a bad decision.

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Limiting starts is not the job of a committee or the USST.  Deciding who can or cannot travel to race on any continent in the world is also not the place of a committee or USST.

I would go so far as to say even having the discussion is a bad idea and being concerned about participation and attrition in our sport has more to do with poor coaching and too many ski clubs which are too too heavy administratively with all their hands in the cookie jar driving up costs than it does with anything else.

Alpine directors need to be able to do their job without answering to boards, athletic directors, executive directors, etc.

Clubs need to be able to do their job without counting race starts and having some random committees try and “figure out” a best new approach to keep athletes engaged in the sport. Unless the USST decides to fund athletes regardless of injury and rank to the age of 23 why would anyone want to limit race starts?  What would be the incentive as all decisions for all teams in the world is based on world rankings.

Emphasis on head to head starts?  I think we should be very careful about getting too far ahead of ourselves in stepping away from traditional timed run ski racing. Yes, I am a fan, but we need to make sure the regions, clubs and national team can bring substance to the format to ensure the best crop of skiers.

We should be looking bigger picture at the USST turning its back on speed skiing events.  Clubs turning their backs on speed and Chip Knight wonders how to fix attrition in the sport. Keeping kids engaged means keeping skiing cool and fun. Getting an adrenaline rush from pushing the limits on skis with line and speed.

Do people like watching surfers at Jaws or do they flock to the beach and make movies about surfing 3ft shore break? Call me crazy but there is an attachment to Downhill ski racing that must not be forgotten within the ranks of the USST and at every club level in this country. Speed is the backbone to this sport and if we continue to diminish its importance, limit starts because of desk jockeys coming up with “ratios” based on data points and thinking we can create broad stroked rules that benefit overall participation and engagement this sport is doomed.

NONE of this is the business of a committee this is for coaches, athletes and parents to determine and the USST should identify the athletes that they can help shove through the keyhole that show they possess the talent.

Continuing to have American skiers on top of podiums in international competitions is the one sole goal and purpose and how we achieve this has nothing to do with limiting race starts, in fact, it is the complete opposite.

Why is the time and energy even being wasted discussing this is a better question to ask. There are much more important issues so turn the focus to what matters please.

— Chad Fleischer

This letter was in response to a recent article “Health of Sport hits snag over FIS start restrictions. Have some thoughts on this? Send a letter to the editor. We’ll publish it.

Letters to the editor are wholly the opinion of the author. Ski Racing Media does not endorse, edit, proofread, or fact-check letters to the editor. We do have a couple rules, which can be found here.

4 COMMENTS

  1. As a 30+ yr club coach, agree with Chad. A good coach/club knows how to manage, you have to trust them to do their jobs. This isn’t a committee call. What other nations are limiting FIS starts?
    We’re losing alpine race memberships across the board. This isn’t gonna help that. At all. The elephant is still in the room, you need to address the real issues.

  2. I agree 100%. Awesome article. I’m only 23, in my lifetime and my goal is to propose, develop, pursue, and complete a homologated downhill at Whiteface. Following the Olympic run, NYSEF and their senior experience would be able to direct the racing and training. I wish to enable consistent downhill in the eastern U.S., with a World Cup return.

  3. One thing to point out: I believe when Health of Sport was discussing head-to-head competition, I think that meant having athletes race at the same races, not, as Chad assumed, a parallel/dual format.

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