As most of you know, Bear Valley has several teams in its Snow Sports program. Most of our Race Team members will have come from the All Mountain ( Devo ) Program where they have developed the fundamental skills necessary for the Race Team. It is not mandatory for Race Team members to have participated in this program however joining the race team does require a certain skill level.
The Race Coaches will assess each athlete to ensure that their skill level is appropriate for participation on the team. This is done for three reasons; first, and most important, the safety of the athlete-whether it be running gates or free skiing, pushing an athlete beyond his/her ability in terms of speed and terrain is dangerous; and second, to ensure that our coaching resources can focus on efficiently developing the skill level of the entire team. If coaches must spend a disproportionate amount of time with an individual athlete on remedial instruction, the progress of the team suffers. Third, if your athlete cannot keep up with his/her teammates, the fun and enjoyment are replaced with stress and frustration.
The Race Team is divided into groups based on age classification.
Junior Racing Classifications for each Season is the competitor’s age as of Dec 31.
Age Class Age as of Dec 31
- Seniors 21 and older
- U21 19-20 years old
- U19 16-18 years old
- U16 14-15 years old
- U14 12-13 years old
- U12 10-11 years old
- U10 8-9 years old
- U8 7 years old and under
Generally, all racers will train together but compete in age class categories..They also will compete in the same Central Series races although there may be some U14 and U16 Far West races in which U14 and U16 may compete.
During training, the groups may be combined for certain drills or practice. It is very common to combine U10 and U12 athletes. In some cases, U14 athletes may train with older racers as well. If several racers require work on a specific skill, one coach may take several racers from their respective groups for a specific drill or training.
As the season progresses, coaches will time the training runs to give the racers a perspective of how their line and technique can influence time. In addition, all racers will be videotaped and will have individual assessments with a coach who will point out key aspects of their techniques that both are commendable or need improvement.
During the season, the training will vary with the upcoming race discipline. Techniques and tactics differ among the various disciplines of Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G. The coaching staff works on disciplines according to the race schedules. Because the U8/U10U12/U14 and U16/U19 have different schedules, it is common for the groups to working on different disciplines. Different disciplines require different equipment (see Equipment Section). Race team members will be advised which disciplines are the focus of each training session so they can come prepared.
When the team is training for speed events such as Super G, training may take place before the resort opens to the public. This is because the runs and speeds required cannot be safely incorporated with the regular operation of the resort. During these training sessions, racers are to be on the Mountain at 7 am. No parents or other non-race team skiers are permitted on the mountain during early morning training unless specifically approved to assist with training course set up/take down. Please be aware that early morning training tends to be scheduled for specific groups and/or ability levels. Participating in these sessions is solely at the discretion of the coaches.
Race training by no means is restricted to the training course. In fact, the best racers are those with plenty of free skiing time. Free skiing helps develop the balance, reaction times and judgment required to be a competitive athlete. Free skiing may occur during any training session. At times of heavy snowfall, training courses cannot be set but the team will take these opportunities to free ski.
The Bear Valley Race Team uses the US Ski Team Alpine Training System which provides a guideline to achieve an integrated system for athlete development. The system is focused on age-appropriate content and stages of development, including areas of emphasis within the relevant sport domains, as well as a competition system that optimizes training and competition windows. It is based on a long-term athlete development model for skiers and riders that emphasize age-appropriate training and competition that will allow each athlete to reach their full potential.
The USSS SkillsQuest program is also used to provide structure to teaching fundamental skiing skills. SkillsQuest is a cornerstone program of the Training System designed to assist coaches with and to motivate and reward athletes in working toward and improving abilities in the key areas of emphasis of the Alpine Training System. As its name implies, it represents a quest, or journey toward success in ski and snowboard competition, by focusing on skills, the critical components that make up a high-performing ski and/or snowboard competitor. In its full build-out, it will include activities and competencies for skiing and snowboard skills, technique and tactics, conditioning, equipment preparation, performance psychology, and athlete management.