To all our Far West Masters members:
Well, just when we thought last season was unusual, it looks like we continue to live in “interesting times”!
But first off, and most important, I hope all of you and your families have been able to stay healthy and well and to enjoy the summer to the extent possible given the impact of the pandemic.
I have heard from many of you in recent weeks wondering what the future is likely to hold for Masters ski racing in the coming season as you try to make decisions on season passes, training opportunities, ski leases, equipment purchases etc. Like all of you, the FWM Board and I would welcome greater certainty about what next season will look like. In an effort to provide some updates I have been discussing the situation with Masters National leadership and we also had an emergency FWM Board meeting a few days ago. The bad news is that unfortunately at this stage everything remains in a state of flux and uncertainty.
While US Ski & Snowboard (USSS) has provided some initial recommendations about potential precautions – including restrictions on numbers of racers in an event, temperature tests for all competitors, signing waivers etc. – these are all very preliminary at the moment. We do anticipate receiving more definitive guidance from USSS by mid-September which we will incorporate into our planning for Far West Masters and we will communicate to all our members when we receive it.
We have seen only very limited information from the mountains on operating plans and possible restrictions. Heavenly has already cancelled the event we had planned for January. Mount Rose has announced it will delay its planned October 30 opening, probably till mid-November, to allow the mountain to get a reasonable amount of terrain open. Other mountains still show planned opening dates but I would suggest you treat these as speculative at the moment while the industry as a whole tries to get to grips with what will be possible and to develop plans.
So, in light of all this, what has Far West Masters been doing to be in a position to respond to whatever directives and guidance come out that will impact our race season. Our Scheduling Director, Mike Braun, has been hard at work since the early shutdown last season to put together a potential schedule for next season. This was no mean feat given that most mountains had furloughed staff so there were no contacts available!. Despite this Mike was successful in creating an excellent provisional schedule (see below) only to find out, 15 minutes after finalizing, that Heavenly were cancelling our event. I think the only thing definitive about our schedule at the moment is that it will be subject to change, probably on an ongoing basis, so please take this into account when doing season planning. Nevertheless we will apply our best efforts to delivering the best possible race series for members under these unprecedented circumstances, subject to whatever restrictions may be enacted by governing bodies and host mountains.
With the unanimous support of the Board, we have agreed that we will waive the membership fee for Far West Masters for this season. We recognize that, given the levels of uncertainty around events, members may, justifiably, have delayed renewals this year. As a Board we want to do whatever we can to help our racers get through this season and, while it may be one of the less onerous financial commitments, we want to see all of you remain connected to and get updates from FWM. You will still need to renew your membership on SkiRaceReg.com to sign liability waivers but it will be a no-cost option. Further details will be provided when membership opens on SkiRaceReg.com. We have also extended this offer for new members so consider using this as an opportunity to bring new members into Far West Masters!. Thanks to the excellent stewardship of your funds by our Treasurer and Board we are able to fund this for this season to support our members and remove one concern for you
With regard to USSS membership and race licenses we have been advised that USS will NOT provide any refunds should it be necessary to shorten or, in worst case, cancel the season. My advice to you at this stage would be to hold off on renewal of your USSS membership until we have some more guidance. The late fee for renewal goes into effect after October 15 but I am hopeful we will have better insight before then.
In other related National updates, FIS Masters has just implemented a rule to require FIS certified and stickered helmets in all FIS events other than slalom, ending the exemption to that requirement previously applied to Masters. It is likely that USSS will also now apply this requirement for Masters in alignment with all other Alpine competitors. I know that most of you have upgraded your helmets in recent years but, if you have not, now is the time to replace it with an FIS stickered model. The other significant rules change for the coming season is that fluorocarbon waxes have now been banned for use in all FIS and USSS events due to the potential harmful environmental and health effects.
In summary then, this is likely to be a challenging and constantly evolving season. You have the commitment of all the Far West Masters Board to do whatever we can to put on races wherever possible, even though this season is unlikely to look like anything we have experienced in the past. We are also committed to get update information out to you at the earliest opportunity. In return we would ask for your continued support, and forbearance when we have to make changes at short notice, in order that we can continue to participate in our sport through these challenging times.
I look forward to hopefully seeing you all at our first event of the season…..wherever that turns out to be ! In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.
Best to All!
President, Far West Masters