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  1. #1
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    Kids in Ski Racing Rant and Therapy Session

    I know this is not the board for this. And admittedly, I never thought I'd be reaching out to mags about my kids ski racing and advice on how to raise a living/breathing human. I have poor judgement. But alas, I think we all cave and do things for our kids we thought might not ever happen, and ski racing was one of those moments for us. And I need a friggin mag therapy session here.

    My kids are both into racing, one is totally average and totally good with it. The other is above average and scrapes top 5 pretty much every single race. They both have a great attitude about it and still love to freeski, and can't wait for pow days when they come. In short, I "think" I'm doing this right because my kids like skiing in general. Racing is all part of the skiing experience for them.

    Problem: Over the past couple of years, I've noticed one of the things everybody warned me about: money makes your kid better at ski racing. There is pretty much one or two kids that win every single race around here. They're phenomenal skiers, no question. They have slowly widened the gap on my kids because they are training year round because they can (and want to) afford it. I can see it slowly sucking the life out of my kids (particularly my younger child) because she thinks she won't catch back up. Kinda hard to watch, but we've refused to send kids away for weeks at a time and spend 10's of thousands on developing a kid that's not even a teenager.

    For some reason, this grinds my gears and I need some encouragement. I mean heck, I just want my kids to grow up and be good humans that have something fun to do outside. I do think racing teaches them a lot about a lot. But I don't blame them for getting discouraged from time to time because they aren't keeping up with "the 1%".

    Maybe this is all part of sports' life lessons and I should be happy about that part of it?

    I don't even know my question here. I'm totally ranting and rambling. If you've made it this far, I'm guessing you're gonna flame me. Which is fair.

  2. #2
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    Be the adult, but ask them.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
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  3. #3
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    I feel you.

    My kiddo raced for 5 years, this is her first winter not racing (she would have been a first year U14). The level of commitment and the amount of money just keeps ramping up and it wasn't sustainable for us. My kid liked identifying as a ski racer (though she didn't sniff the podium, she was much closer to being DFL). But to train both days of the weekend, every weekend, from November through April, just to keep being close to DFL, was not something she could commit to. And she didn't want to go away for weeks to ski camp and whatnot.

    And that says nothing about the inability of me or my ex to pay for any of it. The U14 program, with race registrations and equipment and whatever, would be $5k, and that's the bare minimum, with beater used gear and NOT doing the camps and stuff in the summer.

    But that is what it takes to be the next Mikaela Shiffrin.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin
    "everybody's got their hooks into you, fuck em....forge on motherfuckers, drag all those bitches across the goal line with you." - (not so) ill-advised strategy

  4. #4
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    Sorry yer wound up.
    Nobody's gonna flame ya.
    I raised a coupla very successful racers on a ski patroller and house cleaner's budget.
    Need more info:
    How old are they?
    What's yer home hill?
    How far do you live from it?
    Is there night skiing/training?
    Are they into other sports that are good for cross training?
    Are they into working out, yoga, etc.?
    Guess what I'm gettin at is that hard work, dedication, and talent count for a lot.
    We used to sleep in the van for away races, hiding boot liners in the lodge, hand me down clothing, never eating resort food, any way to save money.
    Ski racing for most is to develop talent for a life long activity.
    Most of the rich kids yer talking about get burnt out on account of the push and aren't life long skiers...
    Time spent skiing cannot be deducted from one's life.

  5. #5
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    As a parent I see this in all of the sports my sons participate in. Skiing is the worst because it is much easier to get a leg up with money. Mostly it more money equals more time on snow.


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by telefreewasatch View Post
    Sorry yer wound up.
    Nobody's gonna flame ya.
    I raised a coupla very successful racers on a ski patroller and house cleaner's budget.
    Need more info:
    How old are they?
    What's yer home hill?
    How far do you live from it?
    Is there night skiing/training?
    Are they into other sports that are good for cross training?
    Are they into working out, yoga, etc.?
    Guess what I'm gettin at is that hard work, dedication, and talent count for a lot...
    Really great questions:

    How old are they? - 12 yo female and 14 yo male. 12 year old has desires to keep up, 14 yo is mr. content (honestly his best quality).
    What's yer home hill? - Mont Ripley, which is 5 minutes and they can night ski. They could train every single day from now to April 1. But we choose 4x week, 5 if they really want.
    Are they into other sports that are good for cross training? - I guess I'm not sure what's good for cross training but we mountain bike a lot and they both play tennis. The 12yo also does some basketball and softball.
    Are they into working out, yoga, etc.? Both of them are pretty good about stretching, but haven't really thought about this. Too soon for the 12 yo?? 14 year old does do some dryland stuff with his high school team.

    I guess to clarify, it's really the 12 year old that seems to be mixed up in this USSS/USSA stuff and the 14 year old on the high school path and limited interest in FIS at the moment.

  7. #7
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    Kids in Ski Racing Rant and Therapy Session

    Lots of thoughts not all of which Iíll write here:

    Ski racing is expensive in the US - accept it, or get out now if thats gonna be a continual frustration
    Ski racing is a grind - for the kids and for the family
    The kid has got to want to do it for reasons beyond getting a win or a podium
    Youíve got to be willing to support them - in whatever it is they want to do
    If your kid is ďnot even a teenagerĒ they are barely starting to figure this out - way to early to get demoralized over results
    Every athletes curve is different - some progress early and plateau (money and off season training contributes to this), others figure it out later and catch up.
    The kid winning u12 is probably not the kid winning u16.

    Tangentially related - I grew up abroad - I donít know if its a generational thing or a US thing but I think the intensity of youth sports these days in this country is destructive - not just skiing but every sport- the early specialization, the travel teams, the club scene, the recruiting, the sports academys, the summer camps, fixation on college sports etcÖ

    Edit: parent of two ski racers of widely disparate ability but equal enthusiasm and passion

  8. #8
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    I'm at the end of the kids sports thing and am now looking back on it, and I've been thinking about it a lot. So this'll be a long answer. For perspective, my very close family includes many college athletes and a few professional athletes. My own kids had college scholie offers and decided not to pursue sports in college. Same with me. My lovely wife was asked to move to Florida in her early teens to pursue a pro tennis career. She didn't. My brother is a pro cycling, swimming and triathlon coach to some of the fastest humans in the country. My cousin is a college soccer head coach. Another cousin is a sportcaster. My dad paid for college with a wrestling scholie. Etc etc etc.

    This should all make me super pro kid sports, rah rah rah and all that, and all about kid success in those sports. I'm not. If they love it, great, support them as much as you can. If they are world class at it their equipment won't matter. If they love it, losing won't matter, they'll still work their ass off. Let them find their ride, give them a decent amount of support, and let them find love in it. If they do it till mid high school they will always have a fond place for it in their heart. If they want to do it half-assed, just let then find a level where it works from a financial/time commitment place for your family and let it roll.

    Don't let society force you to take it super seriously. What the hell is the end goal for all these kids? The Olympics? That's nearly impossible. Pay for college? You'll damn close to pay out in fees and travel anything you'll save from a scholarship.

    My daughter was a soccer player. Set the record for goals for her high school. State All Star team, Olympic development training, national travel team etc. She choose not to play in college. She instead went to a school where she could ski whenever she wanted, mountain bike, camp, climb. She could not be happier. She misses soccer a little, plays some rec games, will play again when she graduates in an adult league for sure. But, she is far happier without college soccer.

    All these kids that play college sports - why?! I get that you love it, you love your teammates - many of my family did this. But your 4 years at college is just a continuation of your adolescent life. I don't think you get a real college experience. And kids pick their school based on a sport they will play for 4 more years then be done, rather than to find a place where they can be who they want to be, discover their interests, find like minded kids, and learn about themselves, their passions and their worlds.

    Teleefree's kids loved skiing. They found their way. And it wasn't found through podium places. That was just a stop on their journey. He gave them support to follow their passion, but it worked for the family. And it became a profession for them. My kids loved skiing. They chose their college for it. They feel freer on the mountain and in the air than they can imagine. Skiing might become a profession for my son as well. It won't for my daughter. She's a scientist. But she'll get 80 days in this winter, and she loves the snow, and that is what she'll take forward. Not her trophies, newspaper articles, or records from soccer. Instead she has the love of the mountains. None of that was dictated by sports results when they were a teen - not for any of them.

    If you want to know if your kid really has the passion, check out John Collinson's instagram account, and look at his training. Then look at your kid. It isn't something they "want" at that level. it's something they "need." That's the only thing that creates work like that. If you don't see that, then don't sweat it. Just support the path and it'll be fine.

    Ok, that's a rant and it's over. Sorry.
    Last edited by EWG; 12-04-2023 at 04:39 PM.

  9. #9
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    Sounds like they have a great setup!
    Plenty of skiing/training on good hard snow.
    Wouldn't worry too much bout keeping up with the Joneses.
    Keep it fun, no pressure, and see where it goes.
    One tip: buy the World Cup winning run vids from USSA. Watching the best skiers on their best runs is invaluable.
    Last edited by telefreewasatch; 12-04-2023 at 04:50 PM.
    Time spent skiing cannot be deducted from one's life.

  10. #10
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    Both of mine ski raced 7-18. The older one started a bit later at 10, and while he enjoyed it was a middle pack racer at best (except for speed events, he's really good at not turning). Younger one was always on the podium every race but fell back to top 10-15 in high school as comp increased with travel outside the NW for races and she didn't deal with the pressure as well.

    You didn't say how old yours, but yes there is generally a big attrition right around age 13 and a lot of pressure to spend money for this camp or that camp, outside coaching etc. No matter how you slice it ski racing is damn expensive, and at a certain level money spent on travel far exceeds the coaching and club fees.

    In the end though, throwing money at it doesn't make them better- they ultimately have to want that for themselves and their own desire for developing athleticism goes a long way to making better results. Throwing money at it just makes Dad feel like he is doing everything he should to help give that leg up.

    I'm glad they went through it and I'm glad they never lost their desire to ski in the process, it can burn some kids out. I'm also glad those days are over,the money aspect was a drag and I went through all of dad guilt as well of not sending them off for weeks at a time.

    Now my girl is a Sr at UofU and still races on the club team and really enjoys it without the pressure to perform. My boy became a ski coach after graduating last yr and logged 159 days, 109 in a row in season and a nutty 4.3 million vert, 100K+ day, hit his double backs and is damn strong all over the hill. But more than that he's also a really well grounded young man and ski racing helped his personal development tremondously.

    I was very fortunate to get to ski a metric f-ton of pow with him last year ~70days and both kids still love skiing with their old man. Stick with it as long as you can, but make sure it's because they want it more than you.
    Move upside and let the man go through...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mofro261 View Post

    Now my girl is a Sr at UofU and still races on the club team and really enjoys it without the pressure to perform. My boy became a ski coach after graduating last yr and logged 159 days, 109 in a row in season and a nutty 4.3 million vert, 100K+ day, hit his double backs and is damn strong all over the hill. But more than that he's also a really well grounded young man and ski racing helped his personal development tremondously.

    I was very fortunate to get to ski a metric f-ton of pow with him last year ~70days and both kids still love skiing with their old man. Stick with it as long as you can, but make sure it's because they want it more than you.
    ^^^ This is awesome.

  12. #12
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    Great thread!

  13. #13
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    Welcome to the racket that is the Youth Sports Industrial Complex.

  14. #14
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    Boy 2004 birth year- loved skiing from his first day on snow at 21 months. Consistently podium in provincial races ranked top 3 nationally in his age group going into nationals the year they were cancelled due to covid. Did 3 years of FIS after that but chose to go to school and race at the same time, watched as guys he used to beat consistently "got better" because they chose to just ski. He "retired" last year and is now a soul skier. He will coach nights near his school and the odd weekend at home as needed.
    Girl 2007 birth year-liked not loved skiing from the beginning. Skied middle of the pack her whole "career". No interest in FIS so will coach munchkins now with our home club.
    So what? I have 2 phenomenal ski buddies that put most people and me to shame on the mountain and are poetry to watch. Their friends are lifelong friend on and off the hill.
    Cost is prohibitive for sure but I always say it's cheaper than rehab.
    If OP kid is serious and can ski locally at night etc. I would say time on snow is paramount and freeskiing is as important as gates.
    Summer? Do other sports and hit the gym, less money spent on travel and more spent on squats will benefit the athlete more than limited time on some glacier somewhere. IMHO.
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  15. #15
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    Few buddies kids are 9-10 y/o and being pressured into hiring private soccer coaches, at 9!?!? This is all on top of some serious $$$ for the travel team and coaches. Another friends 9y/o just moved up to NH and joining race program up there, imagine this will head the same way.

    My 10y/o so far loves her program heading into 2nd year. Seems hers is intended for making good skiers, but probably not great racers. In her skiing and competitive Field Hockey I'm hoping the two programs that are more than rec and less than full intensity travel teams. Time will tell.

    Good on you for acknowledging this at least and hopefully giving that perspective to your kids. So many get sucked into what's contributing to, what I think is the ruin of youth sports.

  16. #16
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    Just looking at all the racer kids and their stressed looking parents at big sky the other day. Looked expensive af.

  17. #17
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    I'll add one more thing. We kept my daughter with her local, fairly big time but not national power soccer club till she was 13 or so, despite a ton of pressure to go elsewhere. They played her with their team that was two years older to try to get reasonable competition. The club director once asked me with all that going on if I thought I was getting my money's worth. I thought about it a bunch, and then said that if someone told me, when my daughter was 3, that I could cut a check for $50,000 and that would ensure that she had a positive body image, was self reliant, was fierce and mentally strong, was fit and valued exercise, and found her self worth inside herself rather than from outside people (like boys) I'd cut that damn check in a heartbeat. So yeah, writing them a check each season was worth it, despite it not being a national powerhouse. And I think that moment is when I really started to understand things.

    It's all in how you define the goals and a successful outcome. And a successful outcome is almost never the podium, points scored, or the win column. As a parent it's your job to keep that in mind, because almost no one around you in that environment will remind you that.

  18. #18
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    It is probably the same everywhere but I think Southern Ontario is the worst for this. Mega money spent to race on 600 foot hills.
    You are very unlikely to find anyone on the Ontario Team that doesn't or didn't belong to one of the Private Clubs along the escarpment.
    This will mean nothing to most of you but those from Ontario will get it.
    Im so glad I moved to Alberta.

  19. #19
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    Kids in Ski Racing Rant and Therapy Session

    This will get off topic a bit from skiing, but there is way too much professionalization of youth sports, all youth sports. My girls are 5 and 8 and we live in Denver so ski racing is out. We just want them to have fun with that. They are doing lessons this year and skiing blues and blacks.

    Both girls play soccer. Already with the 8 year old we basically need to decide now if we are going to go the try to play college soccer route and think thatís bullshit. We just want her, both of them to have fun.

    The Mrs and I both played soccer competitively at a pretty high youth level in the 1990s (year round, 3 yr varsity starter, camps, travel teams that went like two to three hours away, etc.) and thankfully I didnít play in college. None of that competitive stuff really started until middle school. I have a coworker whose u10 son made a baseball team to go play a tournament in the Dominican Republic this past summer! A neighbor had friends visiting here in Denver from New Jersey for their sonís u11 lacrosse tournament! The costs of those trips alone wipe out a year worth of realistic scholarships for those sports. Another neighbor has their 7-year-old daughter in gymnastics 5 days a week. The kid doesnít really even like it.

    Look at college football today and the number of freshman who contribute each year, especially at QB compared to the 80s and 90s. Itís because those 18 year olds are coming in with the same level of coaching and experience that juniors in college had in the 80s-90s. High school sports are ran like D11 college programs now.

    Youth coaches used to be well meaning dads and volunteers. Now they are Johnny who played D2, D3, NAIA or whatever level and loved the game so much he took a job at one of the youth clubs. Johnny is a pro coach and the club members gotta pay him.

    Then there are the parents living vicariously through their kids.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    Welcome to the racket that is the Youth Sports Industrial Complex.
    Yeah but those Draper soccer moms….

  21. #21
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    I’ve got two quick girls, left one is out for a year w an ACL.

    Is it expensive, yes. But, not all that more than other elite sports. The soccer folks in our circle spend the same. Gymnastics is stupid expensive etc.

    We do camps but sleep in the camper sometimes, share rooms at air b n b’s…saves a ton. I buy gear in the off season. Got 2 pair SL, 2 pair GS and SG new for under $1k. Got to be willing to look hard. Shipping from Europe is worth saving 3 grand.

    Both kids love to free ski, get bored AF when other kids come over and want to be on screens. Compared to peers they are hard as nails, hung Ho for adventure and have a killer work ethic. Ski racing will do that and serve them well their entire lives.

    The only real hesitation we have is injury.

    My .02
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  22. #22
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    I haven't much new to add here except to commiserate. I have an 8 yo and a 6 yo on the race team and I am already sweating the details. Do we do the week night practices? Do we send em to mount hood next summer?
    My 8yo loves racing and practices and parades around his 2nd place medal from last season. But I dunno that he has the discipline to train like Joey Bagadonuts versus John Collinson. The 6yo is just getting started with the competitive aspects. He may hate it for all I know.
    I'm just glad neither is very good at soccer. They like baseball but we're insulated from traveling team pressure for at least another year.
    You're not alone in the stress that is "the you sports industrial complex." Probably a big part of that trillion dollar outdoor recreation industry we're hearing about these days.


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    I demoed the TECH TALK JONG! pro model this spring and their performance was unparalleled which is good because I ski in a wedge most of the time - bendtheski, 2011

  23. #23
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    Timely and good thread.

    My kids just got pushed to a 2 day commitment by their coaches. It was that or nothing. They chose to go for it this year. Next year oldest will be entering high school and youngest 8th grade. They started with the little kid team 5 yrs ago and lost part of one season from Covid. We are fortunate enough to be close to summer ski camp and have some other local cost cutting measures, like sleeping in the camper, that have allowed them to do 3 summer camps.

    We donít see them continuing after this year and we are only going to entertain it if they individually beg me, but right now itís not about the racing for them. They enjoy the coaching and friendships. They have only raced a couple events a year and I have been cool with that. For me it has just been about helping them get the best fundamentals as possible, so they will always have a sport they can do at will, even if they find themselves away from the mountains for years, they can pick it right back up. Both have expressed interest in the youth ski patrol program that is available at 15, so we will see if that is still an interest in a couple years.

    Last night, with Mommaís initiation, we talked about winter goals as a family. Youngest offered on his own that he just wanted to grind this season. After choosing to play football this year he recognized that he wanted to work on his mental toughness and embrace the suck so he is more prepared to enjoy the good. Oldest said he wanted to one-ski a whole run smooth without stopping and to learn to jump better and less timidly. Them setting and trying to achieve these goals makes me a happy dad. No podium or even a race start needed.

    This year we as a family are all geared up for a two day weekend commitment at the steeper resort eating PBJ in the parking lot until mid April. Next year, I think we will be more vibing at the T Flats eating tacos at lunch or chilling in slippers in the lodge for brunch.

  24. #24
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    To the OP. I feel you. Currently racing our 2nd year U14G.

    In addition to money it helps to have mad interpersonal skills. Hard sport to do alone and the better you are with people the more opportunities you tend to find out about. I wish I had the personality of a CEO , but I don't, and ski racing never fails to remind me. Luckily, we had a non coach race parent with better skills in that area sort of mentor us on various paths forward, but he has unfortunately recently passed away.

    We do it for fun, because we want to ski anyway.

    Lucky to have a strong very affordable rec league down here (WIJARA) which has produced some fine racers. Really wish we were closer to the USSA circuit which is also frustrating, but the reality is I'm not going to give up a ski week out west to go do a USSA race in Michigan.

    So that keeps it as a solid rec sport for us.

    My stepson never raced, didn't particulary like skiing with us. His focus was club soccer, swim team, and the weight room. Once he could drive and ski without us the switch flipped. He moved to Colorado and was rookie of the year across all mountains sports teams at Western last year for his skiing on the freeride team. Ripping pretty hard now. Would never ever have predicted that 3 or 5 years ago when he passed on trips to Utah so he could swim laps on a Sunday.

    Have to ride the wave. Recognize ski racing isn't fair, and more of a reflection of life outside of skiing than of actual free skiing, which seems pretty damned pure in comparison. Drink a couple beers. Bring a stove for bacon. Have fun. Most important for us, we keep spinning laps, even if riding the chairs like demented rats in a maze means we miss out on some things. So be it.
    Last edited by uglymoney; 12-05-2023 at 12:32 PM.

  25. #25
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    So many good little nuggets in here!

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