As we head into the spring ski season I wanted to send a couple updates and reminders related to U14 racing for this year:
U14 Eastern Champs
Unfortunately, this event has been canceled for 2021, but we're optimistic that it will return for 2022. With U14s not allowed to race outside their divisions this year, having a regional championship isn't possible. Not to mention the fact that there isn't a state that everyone can get to without quarantine/testing... Losing this event is painful for many of you, but I think the takeaway has to be a drive to fill this void if you're concerned about kids feeling let-down at the end of the year. Do they like the chase, and qualifying, and racing against the best? Yes, of course. But that's not the ONLY thing they like. They like to race against their friends. They like to race against faster and/or older kids, they like to race in new formats or with a different scoring, they like t-shirts, they like loud music and BBQs on a nice spring day... there are lots of ways to pump up the volume!
U14s Racing for Points
This fall, the Eastern Children's Committee voted to pause U14s racing for points for this season. With U14s not being able to race out of their home division, there is just too much of a discrepancy in access to points across the different divisions, resulting in an even bigger opportunity gap than normal between different divisions. Pair that with the difficulties of accessing races in the first place this year, on top of the fact that many divisions are already seeing access issues when U14s get added to startlists in a "normal" spring, and you can see why the decision makes sense. All that being said, there is no specific prohibition against U14s racing with U16s - the U14s just can't score points. So if you feel that mixed-age racing is a good fit in your division and you want to put something together, I think that can be a great thing if done correctly, especially for second-year U14s as they transition into the U16 age group. Maine recently ran a USSS and FIS event separately but on the same track - that's a model that could work for different age groups like this. Run the U14s unscored, then run the U16/U19s scored. It's still "racing up" and racing head-to-head even if the younger kids don't get points!
U14 Regional Training Projects
Many of you have noticed that we haven't been running our usual slate of U14 Regional projects this year. We will see a U14 regional calendar come together again for 2022, but with the travel restrictions that are in place around the region, plus the challenges associated with gathering cohorts of kids and coaches from different places, we decided that Kathy's time would be best spent on club- and coach-development this year, which actually has a lot of overlap with youth development as well. Kathy has been making the rounds on Zoom with many clubs throughout the region, working them through a curriculum that's designed to "show coaches how to use Cues and Questions to enhance their coaching and their athlete’s learning." The presentation is also designed to help all the coaches within an organization teach from a similar framework, so that kids are more likely to receive consistent and quality coaching as they jump around from group-to-group and age through a given program. The presentation is based on a curriculum developed by the USOPC for coaches in all sports, it is very thought-provoking and it has gotten great reviews! If you'd like to have Kathy get involved with your club, send her an email at [email protected].
That's all for now, will keep you posted as we find out more.