Presidents Message and Update – September 2020
To all our Far West Masters members and racers:
Just as we thought things couldn’t be disrupted any more this year, fire season arrived and the smoke filled air across the West made most outdoor activities a challenge. Seems the only thing missing so far is a plague of locusts! So, I hope you are all staying safe and well as we work through these challenging times.
Regardless, as September comes to a close and we start to see the weather cooling off I suspect all of you, like me, are starting to think about the upcoming season. Following my previous message in August, where I indicated that we hoped to have some more definitive answers, I have both some good news and some still “to be decided” issues.
First the news from a National level on ski racing next season. US Ski and Snowboard (USSS) published their Alpine Competition Guidelines on September 1. They can be found here.
We expect to see further updates and clarifications on these guidelines in early October. As you will see, there are a lot of additional measures and precautions to be taken in order to be able to hold a race. And awards ceremonies and post-race parties will also not be possible. As a Board we are evaluating how best we can meet and implement these requirements and also what other measures our host mountains may require if total skier numbers are limited. So next season will definitely be different from anything we have experienced before as well as more challenging.
The FIS Masters/Western Regionals that were scheduled for February 5-7, 2021 will not now be held at Beaver Creek. The Masters National Committee is currently working to finalize the arrangements with a new venue, on the same dates, and will announce as soon as possible, so watch for updates on this.
Discussions continue around the Masters Nationals scheduled for Sun Valley in March 2021. As USSS has mandated a maximum limit of 100 racers in an event it may be necessary to split age groups across different days and also to potentially race more than one discipline per group each day in order to stage all the races. Several different options are currently being considered. Again, watch for updates.
USSS has also announced that the early purchase window for renewing USSS membership has now been extended from October 15 to November 1 to allow racers more time to understand what next season will look like. Given the uncertainties still surrounding next season my advice to you is to hold off on purchase until closer to the November 1 date.
Several resorts and resort groups have now announced their operating plans for next season. Mostly they plan to either require advance reservations (Vail Resorts) or they will limit (or stop completely) day ticket sales in order to limit skier numbers. In some instances the approach will be a combination of both measures. So there is a clear message that priority will go to season pass holders and the option of day tickets, particularly at weekends, may not be available. Something to consider if you are evaluating a pass purchase.
But now for some more positive Far West news. Both Mount Rose and Diamond Peak have confirmed that their Masters training programs will go ahead and are now open for registration. Squaw Valley has indicated that their Master’s program will tentatively open for registration in early October and there are similar indications from Mammoth. Given that our race program may be curtailed in comparison to previous years, this season could offer a great opportunity to work on your race skills development with one of these training programs. Also some of the programs may have a cap on athlete numbers so don’t wait too long to make a decision
Membership for Far West Masters will be open from October 1 on skiracereg.com. While we have made membership free this year you will require to sign up to confirm. In order that we can ensure you continue to receive the latest communications, which has become much more important given the rapid changes taking place, please sign up as soon as possible. Also this is a great opportunity to encourage anyone who may have been considering Masters racing to take advantage of this offer and sign up.
In summary, while we had hoped to have more definitive updates for you by now, there are still a lot of uncertainties around ski racing in season 20/21. Regardless of this your Board is working hard to put on the best program possible under whatever constraints may be imposed. But we do ask you to be cognizant that events/locations may need to change at short notice through the season and also that our race days will be subject to different processes and more constraints than in the past. Our over-riding priority is to ensure that all our racers remain safe and healthy while we put on a worthwhile race program. So watch for further updates from Far West Masters by mid-October.
I look forward to hopefully seeing you all on the snow soon! In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.
Best to All!
President, Far West Masters