It's simple. Our kids don't just want to be skiers - they want to be a significant cut above. They aim to become excellent skiers and possibly ski racers for a lifetime by training and racing in a fun but competitive environment.
The WTSEF is a non-profit foundation. We run our own program, with parents at the helm, and as the hub. The kids race under the governing rules of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association which is the sanctioning body of the US Ski Team itself. Nearly all of America's Olympic athletes and US Ski Team members came up through programs just like this -- and many from mountains much smaller than this. Our organization does not function without parents' participation. Volunteering is rewarded with fun and camaraderie on snow or in the lodge and a first hand view of the development of the kids as confident athletes. Parents are expected to participate. We answer to ourselves with a Board of Directors. Various committees, chaired by board members, are responsible for everything from gatekeeping at a ski race to fundraising off-season. You will be asked to serve on a committee. You will be asked to lend any special skills or personal expertise you can bring to the Foundation.
The Whitetail Mountain Resort generously supports our program with everything from reserved trail space for race & training courses, early, pre-opening lift access, extra snowmaking and grooming to providing space on their property for our trailer. We are forever grateful. We cannot function without the resort's continued support. Many of our members own real estate here and want the resort to thrive. We contribute to the health of the resort by buying hundreds of season passes and tickets per year, not to mention patronizing mountain businesses. Our relationship is a good one. However, it's important to note: we are guests on the mountain just like any other paying customer. While we enjoy an enhanced relationship with Whitetail, we are not in any way a profit-making enterprise of the resort, nor do we have any say in how they operate.
Our kids are aged 8 to 18. They are divided into age categories under USSA rules. Kids who join the club have already learned how to make linked parallel turns, at speed. They can turn and stop at will and ski all trails on the mountain in a safe and controlled manner. In short, our kids already know how to ski. The WTSEF exists to teach them how to RACE. This is an important distinction. Unlike many league and team sports, ski racing includes significant risks not found on playing fields. Training is conducted on terrain that is open to the general public. For safety's sake, racers MUST be able to keep up with their group, recover from crashes without assistance, and carry their own equipment unassisted. Our coaches cannot accept the risk of anything less than basic proficiency in skiing. Many aspiring racers gain their basic skiing skills and graduate to racing from the resort's excellent Whitetrailers program, which is run by the Whitetail Ski School. The six-week series of lessons puts kids in groups as if they are on a team. Whitetrailers is not, in any way, a club enterprise. However, we highly recommend it.
We are directed by Dan Chayes, Steve Antal and Jon Downs. All are USSA certified coaches, and most have additional credentials as race officials. They direct a corps of coaches dedicated to teaching the most modern, fast, consistent and controlled racing turn. Many of our coaches travel to USSA coaching clinics to stay current on the latest changes in ski racing. Many have coached at Junior Olympic level events. They are paid for their time on club duty, but they don't do it for the money.
You'll meet people from all walks of life and literally from around the world. We're brought together by our genuine love of snow sports -- and the desire to see our kids become the great skiers they want to be!! Parents, coaches, mountain management, we are all volunteers for the club.
See our calendar in handouts and on-line. It boils down to this. The club puts on formal practices on Saturdays and Sundays during the ski season, as well as staging a "holiday camp" between Christmas and the New Year. Different age groups launch at different times between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Skiing continues until about 1:00 pm with a brief warming break. Depending on weather, we also host one weeknight practice on Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm, weather and snow conditions permitting. As part of the weekend schedule, the club aims to stage "in-house" races on a few occasions each season for developing racers who choose not to travel to away meets. Our website will be updated with weekly announcements on the upcoming weekend's plans, and it is updated frequently with articles by WTSEF coaches. The website also has several new FAQs designed to answer many of the most common questions regarding ski racing.
The premier event for WTSEF each season is the Whitetail Giant Slalom race. Our club is responsible for the monumental logistics of staging this sanctioned USSA race. All parents are expected to participate in this weekend by volunteering or being assigned to various committees. Jobs range from running a registration table indoors, to hauling sets of gates up and down the mountain to serving as race officials and judges. Warning: you'll hear a lot about this and you'll be hounded if you do not volunteer. It's a very important weekend for all of us.
Racing at Other Mountains
More experienced racers typically enjoy competing in away meets at other mountains around central Pennsylvania. Depending on their results, many will be invited to the State Championships (aka, Derbies) for their age class and some may advance to regional meets in New England such as the Future Stars event, Eastern Finals, Invitationals or Junior Olympics. Traveling, and racing away is an individual enterprise. Important: Parents and racers are responsible for obtaining registration/fee information and submitting the forms on time and on their own. There is a lot of paperwork in ski racing, and it is not a team activity. Also, parents are responsible for their own travel arrangements, and must be prepared to support their racer on-the-road independent of the team. Coaches will gather racers once they arrive at the mountain, and assist in course inspection and starting. However, racers are the ones who are responsible for appearing on-time and properly equipped for a start. In this aspect, ski racing is a highly individual and very rewarding sport.
Minimally, Racers must have an approved helmet and goggles, with removable slalom face guard. In addition, modern shaped skis with up-to-date boots and bindings are required. Older J1 and J2 racers must use skis that meet the same international F.I.S. standards that World Cup skiers and Olympians adhere to. Typically, by the time a racer is at the J4 level (age 10) he/she will be equipped with both Slalom and Giant Slalom racing skis. Beyond this, the sky (or your wallet) is the limit. Coaches can be a great resource in equipment selection. It warrants special comment that in ski racing a properly fitted and appropriately flexible ski boot is the single most important piece of equipment for your racer.
Who to Talk to
Many of your questions will be about scheduling and upcoming races. WTSEF has a website that will be updated with current information. Individual coaches are available on the mountain during practices and via e-mail links that you may find on the website. You may be serving on one of the committees designated by our Board of Directors. Your individual committee chair can be helpful for questions about who is doing what. See the website for a list of contacts.