The below will hopefully fill in some blanks on what to expect on the day of a race, however it is by no means comprehensive! Depending on race location, which club is organising etc, things such as schedules may vary. What won’t vary though, are the rules under which the race is run, as these follow the BCR rule book.
Please remember too: all race organisation is carried out on a voluntary basis, therefore any offers to help run or support a race, whether your own home club or not, are most welcome and can make the difference to the race running or not, in many instances!
Notification of a Race/ Invitation to Race
Notifications of races usually begin with publication of a Race Invitation. Normally published online, this should include the competition date, order and type of races, eligibility of racers, plus details on how to enter, costs and how to pay, along with contact details of the race organiser.
Following the publication of the Race Invitation, follow-up Race Bulletins are issued at regular intervals, providing updates on the race information, an acceptance list of competitors, start lists and times, along with more detail on those persons running the race e.g. race organiser, chief of race, technical delegate etc.
Entering a Race
Entering a race is as simple as following the links and instructions on the race invitation: different clubs will require payment in different ways ie some may prefer Paypal, some direct bank transfers.
The only additional information required, beyond personal details, is the competitors race number: this could be their home nations governing body membership number (e.g. ME000XXXX for Snowsport Scotland) or the competitors BASS/BARTS competition number (usually a 5 digit number)
First point to note here is please check all gear and equipment before you leave the house! There are no exceptions allowing you to race without the correct equipment e.g. certified helmets.
- Helmet and goggles: Soft eared helmets can only be used for slalom races, with hard ear helmets being mandatory for GS and above. For U14+ racers, if racing GS, helmets must comply with the FIS2013 regulations – this will be shown by a sticker (certificate), normally on the back of the helmet.
- Skis: if you have more than one pair of skis, make sure they are the correct ones for that race ie slalom or GS! Different rules apply to each age group, so best check the regulations or ask a coach! Often racers will arrive at the top of the course on their training skis, with their race skis kept for the race run only. Don’t let this put you off though, as there are lots of skiers who will train and race on the same pair (including coaches!).
- Boots: goes without saying………with correct ski socks!
- Poles: goes without saying…….make sure each competitor has their own poles, not a brother or sisters!
- Clothing: again, different age groups have different rules – for U12 and below, no catsuits are currently allowed to be worn by competitors, however can be worn for U14+. Please check with the BCR rules and a coach for confirmation.
- Protection: back protection is mandatory for certain races, however is highly recommended to be used for all skiing and racing, even where not dictated.
- Club membership card: this is required to provide proof of competitor insurance (club members are automatically covered through our affiliation with SSS)
The actual schedule for a race day will depend on many things, not least the resort and roads being open first thing in the morning! As mentioned oreviously, please remember that all organisation is carried out by volunteers, who do their utmost to make it happen. Likewise, there is a huge effort and often loss of revenue for ski centres in allowing races to take place: they may allocate and close a piste specifically for the race, provide priority on tows etc, therefore patience for everything to fall into place is required!
A typical race day schedule could be as follows:
- 06:00+travel to slope: make sure racers have had sufficient breakfast, all required gear is packed etc
- 07:45: Meet up with coach at designated time and place: this is your responsibility – if late, coaches cannot wait for you, as this will impact things going forward.
- 08:00: bib collection – often the coach will collect for his group, to avoid many tens of kids and parents congregating around the registration desk (coaches may already have collected bibs at this point)
- 08:45: race course open for 1st inspection – bib must be worn by racer and have number visible and identifiable to be allowed to inspect.
- 09:30: forerunners test course – these are non-competing “test dummies”, who will ski the course to test all is well and that the timing systems are working. There can be anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6 forerunners.
- 09:30: first race run, following forerunners. Generally, U10’s race first (girls then boys), followed by the relevant age groups, in age order, therefore it is important to liaise closely with coaches to ensure timings for runs. Depending on age groups, different courses may be used e.g. U12’s may race a kombi, while U14+ may be racing a full slalom on a different piste – please check with coaches beforehand for location.
Note: for indoor or dry slope races, U10 races may sometimes be slotted into the gap between 1st and 2nd runs, due to the lack of space.
- 10:45: 1st run complete – this time is very approximate, as the actual race duration will depend on the number of racers, the length of the course and any delays that may occur e.g. resetting gates that may have come out.
- 11:00-12:30: lunch for racers, course reset by organisers and assigned coach (nominated as course setter).
- 12:30: course open for 2nd run inspection
- 13:15: forerunners test course
- 13:15: 2nd run, following forerunners
- 14:30: 2nd run complete
- 14:30: hand back bibs – this may be either to your coach or directly to the registration desk.
- 16:00: results and prize giving – this may be at the ski area base station or, often, a venue local to the ski area e.g. for previous Cairngorm races, The Woodshed Bar at Coylumbridge Hotel has often been used. Again, please check with club coaches or committee members if unsure.
- Head home for a well earned glass of wine (parents only!).
Coaching at races
- Coaches: Simply put, please leave it to the coaches, especially where it concerns race and/ or course advice!
Our coaches are all highly experienced, having completed specific, in-depth technical and coaching qualifications, therefore are best placed to provide all the mental, physical and equipment advice to prepare our competitors to race, along with on-the-spot course inspection and feedback.
All coaches wish to see their athletes perform well and have fun: they may not be winning, however if they are improving on a personal basis, that is just as satisfying for them and us!
- Parents: When your child is waiting at the top of the course, parents skiing by and offering a few words of encouragement is fantastic, however the kids bounce off each other and their coaches, psych’ing themselves up for the race, hence please do not hang around as this can unconciously put pressure on the kids without you realising it.
Similarly, please do not try and offer any technical or physchological advice to them – the coaches will use certain terminology for specific things, which you may not be familiar with or understand fully, hence the wrong advice at the wrong time can confuse them.
There are several points to note regarding racing, both from a racers persepective and a spectator (parent).
- For all skiers, both competitors not racing and spectators: never ski through the finish line! There is an invisible IR or laser beam set across the finish line for timing – cutting across the line can prove catastrophic for the on-course racers time! Additionally, there are often cables, marked and unmarked (some buried, others lying on the snow) running up the side of race courses – these are electronic lines for the timing gear, therefore please do not ski over them or pull them. From experience, loss of these lines can take long periods to resolve, even resulting in races being cancelled.
- No skiers should enter the course at any time, unless under the specific instruction of the Chief of Race or other identified race official. Often, parents and other races are requested to side-slip the course to ensure mounds of snow do not build-up, giving a fairier race to competitors running later in the order later, however this should only be carried out under very specific instructions – please do not do this with “all good intentions”.
- Please do not ski or walk alongside the course while the race us underway – this can be very distracting to racers in the course itself.
- As with all skiing, do not stop or stand on the piste where you cannot be seen from above – racers will be very focused on the course and travelling at high speed. Being in a spot with reduced visibility means you cannot see them coming and they do not have any chance of seeing you! The last thing anyone wants is an on-course collision!!
- Course inspection for racers will be undertaken with the coach, in most cases. Whether doing this with a coach or not, or for others not racing, do not ski or walk through the course – this can damage the racing line, lead to collisions and, for racers, possibly result in disqualification.
- While it is great to thank all race officials after the race, or during a quick ski-by in a quiet period, please do not disturb gate keepers while they are performing their gate keeping duties during the race – it is extremely difficult to record all racers, theirs bib numbers and ensure each racer does not miss or straddle a gate while they are travelling at speed, often having stood in the same spot in the cold for up to 2hrs, therefore allowing them to focus is of utmost importance.
- As a club organising a race (the Lecht Open), we appreciate that a lot of people, both coaches and parents, would like to obtain copies of start-lists, 2nd run start orders etc, however please bear in mind that these documents are intended solely for the use of coaches and organising staff, therefore we would request that parents do not take copies of such documents: we don’t want to leave the responsible people short and having to share!
Results & prize giving
Race days can be long, with a lot of the old adage “hurry up and wait” applying! However, each and every race involves a great deal of effort, from the volunteers who organised the race (can be several months to organise a single race), to the parents for supporting their kids (bank of mum & dad and taxi-ing), to the competitors themselves for preparing to race (fitness, mental prep, technical training).
The results and prize giving is therefore the culmination and acknowledgement of a successful race, whatever the conditions and results have been, with all support being appreciated at this session: delaying your departure from the race location and attending the prize giving shows your recognition of the efforts involved by all.
It also shows support for all the athletes themselves, especially if one from your own club, or a friend from another, has managed to step onto the podium and receive a medal!