putting the damper on Downhill

sly_karma

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A recent 2-day seminar on safety in ski racing in Canada has resulted in several measures that aim at keeping young athletes safer in speed events. Lobbying FIS for a rule that would make suits slower and more padded is fine, as is the limitation on water injection, but most prominent is an age restriction on DH entry, raising it from 15 to 18.
http://canski.org/alpine-canada-alpin-unveils-ski-racing-safety-initiatives

That will choke off the flow of talent into a national team that's always been rich in speedsters, because the reality is that most kids end their race careers at the end of J2 (age 18) unless they're on a provincial team and are a strong contender for national team.

Those kids that do make it through will be DH rookies at high-level races competing against other nations whose athletes have 3 or 4 years' more DH experience. Worst of all, the lack of young racers will make provincial and even national series races uneconomical to stage. This will almost certainly kill the Apex DH - unless Alpine Canada is willing to subsidise it to make it financially feasible with only 30-40 racers. I'd say the future of the Lake Louise nor-am DH is in jeopardy as well, although at least there they have a track already built for the world cup.

It's hard to see how Canada expects to be competitive in DH and SG in 5 or 8 years' time when they will have no base of experienced athletes to draw from. And in the meantime, Ski Cross is rampant, with current mens and womens world champions in the maple leaf uniforms. Not hard to see which way the Olympic cash is going to be flowing in the future given results lately. To be fair, they also have the reigning DH mens champion, but they better enjoy it while they can.
 
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Shrek

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As was said in the right stuff, no bucks, no buck rogers. Trace the money back, that will tell you everything.
 

benchives

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darn pity.

Downhill is the ultimate.

Sorts the boobie-banning, pinko NIMBYs, SUV driving, shoulder dropping, back seat driving, heel skidding, wang-hating show ponies from the real homeboise.
 

Yardsale

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I agree on the padding and amouring of suits. The more protection, the better. As for 15 minimum age... kids at that age are quite able to make judgement calls. After all, at 15 in NSW you let kids get their L's.
 
Not too sure about that...

+1 had limits for his racers - would not allow them into speed events until their technical performance reached certain levels...

I think easing the kids into the speed events by having selected courses that are easier for introductory speed events would be ideal... they can work their way into the harder events progressively...

IIRC this was the problem with Erik Schlopy - his Dad thought they were pushing him into speed events too fast - and he then had that huge accident...
 

sly_karma

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Except that... the injuries are happening. DH gets the highest rate based on number of competitors. There have been truly enormous strides made in course safety over the past 20 years (no more hay bales!) but the injury rates haven't been reduced as much as administrators would like (some of the 'any injuries is an unacceptable risk' thinking?). Knee injuries are still the main culprits, concussions number two. Helmets have come a long way too, but the speeds have crept up and up and that leads to more injuries in the reportable range.

Kids at 15 in the Canadian system have had 6-10 years of organised training and usually have the skills to handle the courses. Our Apex race is specifically set up to be an intro DH because of its relatively short length and emphasis on turning rather than gliding. Every current national team member that races speed events has been to the Apex DH. It's a demanding course and coaches are generally picky about which of their athletes they will allow to run it - certainly not a matter of "You're old enough now, go for it". Some kids are held back until their skills and maturity levels improve.

I fear Shrek is right. Ski cross and freestyle brought medals home from Whistler and Cypress, alpine did not. Both of the former disciplines have had excellent follow-up seasons with more international titles. As money starts to dry up for alpine, they know they can only fund a smaller team. That means fewer athletes in all disciplines, including dh. I guess my compalint that we are denying talent to the team is moot - the team won't need all that talent anyway.
 

main street

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Yardsale said:
I agree on the padding and amouring of suits. The more protection, the better. As for 15 minimum age... kids at that age are quite able to make judgement calls. After all, at 15 in NSW you let kids get their L's.

Errrrr....... No they don't.
 
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crackson

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There is an incredibly simple solution for dh to fend off the sx craze for ratings.








Berms, doubles, triples, step-ups and rhythm sections.
 

jdm

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Shame.... kinda crazy too really as speed skills are key in the long term...

What's the issue with water injection? Nothing worse or more dangerous than skiing a soft track at speed....
 
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sly_karma

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Mmmmhh, you might change your story if you were at Lake Louise. The track is water injected manmade and has just had back-to-back mens and womens WC on it. Then NorAm comes right behind the big guns and runs that concrete-hard course in very early season (early Dec) with minimal cover to fill in the bones of the terrain. The NorAm men have a lower start than their WC counterparts, but the women run the same course as the senior sanction. I know in theory NorAm is only one level below WC, but in practice there is a very wide range of skills because many racers want to be there for the experience - so few DHs, so much to learn. The course itself is very well built and of course has all the safety features of a north american WC DH race, but there are a lot of pilot error crashes and the consequences are serious. Lots of concussions on those water injected courses.
 

sly_karma

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Sounds like after the initial panic that something might be done to save the Gunbarrel DH. BC Alpine wants the race to stay - citing need to build DH skills - and are considering taking it on themselves (as does Alberta Alpine with the LL nor am). Apex already has the K2 Provincials awarded, no way that tiny club could host both events on its own.
 

Flakey

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Insurance cost us over $1000 for 2 months for daughter training FIS in Canada over summer. In addition add in the FIS license and SSA membership. Insurance is not included in FIS license for FIS racers (can't comment about World Cup/Europa Cup level).
 

sly_karma

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I meant liability insurance, should have made that clear. Medical costs for Canadian racers in Canada are of course covered by the universal medical coverage. Our FIS racers spend a fair chunk of cash when travelling to US events.
 

sly_karma

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Changes occurring in the calendar already as a result of the new Canadian approach to DH. Alberta keeps its NorAm round in early Dec but those events are now moved to Nakiska after many years at Lake Louise. The main reason is that the LL track is water injected from the mens and womens world cup events there immediately before the NorAm. So now we have a completely separate course being built at Nakiska, with all the cost that goes with it. The beauty of LL was being able to walk into a pre-built course, with the costs almost completely covered by WC. How long will Alberta Alpine be able to keep paying full ticket for course building? Nakiska has plenty going for it, all the 1988 Olympic alpine events were there and they've done a decent job of maintaining that infrastructure, but it seems so wasteful to be racing there when a world class DH/SG track is set up a few km away at LL.
 
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