Are you wondering what equipment to buy or what races to you’ll be eligible to enter next season? Then look no further. Below are the alpine rule changes that go into effect for the 2015-16 season which may affect summer training, racing and equipment purchasing plans.
The changes are highlighted by one of the biggest new inclusions regarding age: an all-new U19 age group replacing the previous group of U18s, adding an extra year of eligibility to compete at what was formerly known as U18 and J2 Nationals (now U19 Alpine National Championships).
New Equipment Rules (all changes are effective for the 2015-16 season)
- Helmets: The FIS standard helmet rule that required all FIS-level athletes beginning in the 2014-15 season to utilize a helmet bearing a FIS certification label has trickled down. FIS-approved helmets were recommended for USSA athletes at the U14 age class and older last season but are now required for athletes U14 and older for all USSA giant slalom, super G and downhill competitions (scored and non-scored).
- Masters Helmet Ruling: The USSA Board of Directors tabled the decision to recommend Masters use FIS-approved helmets pending feedback from the FIS meetings in June.
- Gates: Slalom gates for U14 and younger athletes are now required to be 60 inches in height off the snow and 27mm in diameter. Stubby gates may still be used. This applies to events that are exclusive to U14 and younger. This does not affect mixed age races which include athletes U14 and older.
- GS Panels: All USSA competitions for GS, super G and downhill (including Masters) are now required to use homologated GS panels.
- Equipment Matrix: Below is the updated equipment matrix approved for 2015-16 documenting all age-group specific regulations for skis, boots, and bindings.
Racing Eligibility and Event Rules:
- FIS eligibility outside the U.S.: To compete in FIS races outside the United States, a FIS-age athlete is required to have a maximum of 120 USSA points in any event at the time of selection. The current USSA points list valid at the time of selection will be used.
- Eligibility to enter FIS events in Canada: In order to enter FIS events in Canada, USA competitors must be registered to appear on the FIS points list, meet the international USSA point-racing standard (maximum of 120 USSA points in any event) and adhere to national quota procedure and criteria.
- Southern Hemisphere racing for first-year FIS athletes: First-year age eligible FIS athletes (those athletes born in 1999 for the 2015-16 season) are eligible to start in Southern Hemisphere races as long as they meet the international USSA point-racing standard (maximum of 120 USSA points in any event) and adhere to national quota procedure and criteria. In past seasons, USSA first-year FIS athletes were ineligible for competing in these events.
- Rules for parallel racing: Modified FIS alpine parallel rules were adopted. These rules will be published in the forthcoming 2015-16 Alpine Competition Guide.
- Race confirmation deadline: The deadlines to intend and confirm race participation were changed from 28 and 14 to 28 days for intents and 16 days out to confirm entry.
Age Specific Changes:
- FIS children’s competitions: USSA may field teams of U16 athletes to compete in FIS children’s competitions through approved regional and national projects. Each region may select a race to be part of an international regional project.
- U19 age classification: The existing two-year U18 age classification (16 and 17 year olds) will be replaced with a three-year U19 age classification (16, 17, and 18 year olds) and therefore, the U18 Alpine National Championships will become the U19 Alpine National Championships. The field size will remain unaltered. The arguments presented for this rule change centered around keeping athletes involved in the sport longer, using high school graduation as a main reason for dropout from the sport after moving up to U21s. There was also push for the rule change so that athletes will have more time to adjust to the equipment changes they experience in their first FIS eligible season with ski radius changes from U16s.
- Trial ability class racing: The continued trial of ability class racing was approved for 2015-16.
- Concurrent USSA/FIS speed events: The Alpine Sport Committee approved the continuation of up to two concurrent FIS/USSA speed events in each region. The vertical drop and the course set would be the same for both events. The top five athletes in the points would be the same for both events, however they would not be required to race the course twice.
All rule changes are courtesy of USSA, updated on May 30