Last week, we mentioned how vacation week is the biggest of the season for high school skiers, with state meets taking place in both Alpine and Nordic disciplines.

It brought to mind the differences between high school ski competitions and other sports, and how they are funded. Team sports, like football, soccer, hockey, basketball and baseball, take place mostly on or in publicly owned facilities. 

Alpine skiing takes place at ski areas and Nordic at either cross country centers or some at school-maintained trails.

There are as many different ways of securing lift privileges for training and competition as there are schools and ski areas, but lift and trail fees must be paid for.

Then there is equipment. Schools foot the bill for the majority of the costs of most stick-and-ball sports. Most skiers, on the other hand, buy their own. I can’t speak to most Nordic equipment prices, just to say that on the whole, they tend to be a bit less expensive than those for Alpine skiers.

Obviously, the first piece of equipment we look at is skis. Volkl GS or SL models list for $999 to $1,109, depending on the top DIN of the binding — 12 for younger lighter skiers, 16 for the heavier skiers.

Boots come next, and top race models can be pricey. The Tecnica R9.3 with a flex 150/130 goes for $800. Add in a custom foot bed and fitting and the price can top $1,000. The best outfitted racers have skis for both Slalom and GS, but many make do with a single pair.

But they all have to have helmets, goggles and poles. Then there are the race suits, shin guards for Slalom gates and, of course, warm ups and parkas. There are ski shops that work with ski teams to bring down the cost, but even with significant discounts competitive skiing is expensive.

Unfortunately, there is no way to sell tickets for a high school races. Parents who like to watch an Alpine race from somewhere higher on the course than the finish can buy a lift ticket, but if the trail is actually closed, that won’t work either. And it doesn’t provide any revenue to the school.

Another option is to volunteer as a course worker or gate keeper. Of course, it’s not all watching, you have to check a card for each racer and note any that miss the gates you’re charged with observing. If any are knocked loose, you have to replace them. Although many parents volunteer, most watch from the finish where they can see the last gates and times as the racers finish.

Following season-long results

After last week’s column, I was alerted to a sit I’d never heard of, Now that I have this valuable resource, I want to share it with anyone interested in high school skiing.

As soon as I heard about it, I logged on and found all the information I might be seeking in one place. I also made contact with the site administrator and wound up on the phone with Leavitt Nordic Coach Dustin Williamson, who maintains the site.

The former EL skier is in his 13th season at Leavitt. Eight years ago, he decided there should be a place to go for high school skiing information.

He not only put all the results in one location, he set up the site to provide all the information anyone might need to follow the sport. The attractive home page has results, write ups of recent events and plenty of photos. Williamson is a photographer, but he also gets pictures from other coaches to add to the site.

“I couldn’t do this without the coaches feeding the information to the site, all I do is put it up there,” he said.

He also credited John Bernard of Rumford for helping with the site.

Whatever you’re looking for can be easily found on his site: race schedules, race results, race photos and even directions to various race venues. You can check on Nordic summer camp and state meet info. News archives provide historic results and there is a long list of links to high schools, ski clubs, various associations, trail reports and more.

Williamson has had some success with his Leavitt teams, winning titles in both the KVAC and state meets. For Alpine training, the team has to travel to Lost Valley or Mount Abram, but the cross country skiers can train on trails right behind the high school. He said parents from the towns of Turner, Leeds and Greene, along with alumni who volunteer maintaining the trails and with races are critical to his teams’ successes. 

What a difference a year makes

A year ago we were buried with snow and western mountains were bare. Each morning, when I’m not heading out early for the slopes, I check my emails and there are always some ski reports.

Those from two of my favorite western resorts stood out. From Crested Butte in Colo., came, “Over two feet of fresh powder.” Grand Targhee in Wyoming reported, “23 feet and counting.”

I remember a spring day at Targhee when season totals must have been similar to this year’s. We were doing round trips (2000’ vertical) in ten minutes with no lift lines and a high speed quad. Exhausted, we retired to the deck at noon to enjoy the sun.

As an optimist, I can only hope that we get the snow soon, and plenty the rest of the way.

See you on the slopes.

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