FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is North Zone and South Zone?
A: For Alberta Alpine, the province is divided up into these 2 zones with the split in Red Deer. Racers in the North Zone compete against each other, and racers in the South Zone compete against each other. The only time there are no 'zone' division is in the Provincial Series. (more to come on that...)
Q: What are NGSL, Regional and Provincial Categories?
A: In the North, we have the choice with our U12's through U19's to participate in different levels of competition, either Provincial Races or NGSL (under 12) and Regional Races (13-18 yo). Currently, our Club participates in North Zone NGSL races for our U12 and younger athletes, and the Regional Series for our U14 and older athletes. As such, we build our season's calendar around events chosen from the series. Once we identify the events that the club will attend, we structure our training focus to match these events. Provincial level races tend to be largely attended by clubs from the South due to the locations where the races are held. For example, at the recent U14 Provincial race, there were over 170 participants. Of these, 14 athletes came from 3 of the Northern clubs. Southern clubs have no alternative like our Regional series, so they have to go to Provincial races. The athletes that are successful in the Provincial race series are racing at a much higher level than the majority of the field. These are the athletes that are truly on track for moving onto Provincial teams and beyond. Typically they will have 4 pairs of skis (training and race for SL and GS) and attend summer and fall on-snow training camps, as recommended by ACA. This level is not the focus of our club as a whole.
Q: How do we choose which races to fo to if the Alberta Alpine Calendar is so full of options?
A: The Alberta Alpine calendar for the season is chock-full of races for all categories mentioned above... check out www.albertaalpine.ca and look at the Calendar some time. All categories are colour coded.
Alberta Alpine has organized a race calendar for age and skill-appropriate frequency. Younger NGSL skiers race less (more focus on fun and training) and older Regional and Provincial categories more-so.
We don't attend every event offered for two main reasons:
Training-to-Race Ratios: To run from race to race without working on improvements between events is the proverbial illogical thought process of doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Ratios are given for each age group by Alpine Canada in their Long Term Athlete Development model. The fact that there are races on offer each weekend is to provide choice. It is understood that coaches and their programs are entrusted to truly manage their athletes and not just chase races. Based on our training dates and incorporating the Enhanced Program hours, in general, our athletes can compete in up to 8 races (race starts, not race weekends!) to be in compliance with ACA guidelines.
Club Budget and Cost to Families: As a club in the farthest north location of the race circuit, we have to choose wisely. The races are evaluated for the best investment in terms of the number of races per event, the potential competition attending, and location.
Q: Will any of our athletes get a chance to go to higher challenge Provincial Races?
A: Our club policy has always allowed families to choose to attend events not included in our calendar at their own expense. Whether it e another NGSL, Regional or Provincial event. Coaching in such situations is facilitated through partnering with another club - unless the athlete's parent is an FMST coach that is comfortable with this role at this level. The choice to attend other events still needs to be made with respect to the train to race ratios. Approval for attendance should be discussed with the FMST Program Director.
Q: Is it reasonable to expect our athletes to compete regularly at a Provincial level?
A: Geography does play a role in this situation. Access to more training hours and race frequency is tough to come by this far north. However, should any FMST athlete truly aspires to reach this level, we will gladly help the family to choose a club in the SOuth or even outside of Alberta, and wish them the best in their career. Over the past few seasons, we have seen athletes from Cold Lake, Edmonton and others do just that.
We believe strongly in our athletes and in the program that we have created. We are blessed to see the best in our athletes, as each of them shows "flashes of brilliance" in training that may not come out on race day. We also believe strongly in racing at the appropriate level in order to build up an athlete and not tear them down. Some athletes do thrive after exposure to the next level of competition, and we have always supported these athletes in testing themselves at a Provincial event each season if the calendar allows for this.
As always, we encourage questions from parents seeking to be further educated in the complexities of ski racing.