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Women’s Alpine World Cup 2023/24

Tony S

I have a confusion to make ...
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Team Gathermeister
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It's been a long road from the Harald Schönhaar days of a deep team that had multiple potential winners in each race, especially on the women's side. When you had a team consisting of McKinney, Cooper, Armstrong, Nelson, and Flanders the chances of good results were fairly good. Add Roffe and Twardokens to the mix shortly thereafter and it was quite strong.

On the men's side you had the Mahres dominating in tech, Johnson's flash-in-the-pan 1984 season followed by the rise of Lewis in 1985, and then... a lot of crickets for years. Some occasional brilliance but by then HS had left the USST system.

But it's true that the athletes who often excel within the modern USST system are Teams of One™ like Shiffrin, Miller, and Vonn. At least the latter two eventually gave a bit back to the team by training with the rest of the squad. I can't see the management of Team Shiffrin doing that - "it's giving away trade secrets!" :rolleyes:

It's obvious looking at the USST social media that the rest of the women's tech team other than Shiffrin train, travel, and race together. The women's speed squad also has the same trait, as do both men's squads. The women's tech team, with Moltzan taking a leadership/mentoring role, is definitely doing well in spite of having The GOAT® train separately. That's awesome and, yes, an outlier in terms of USST mechanics.

There are a lot of things that aren't healthy about the USSS/USST development system. The exorbitant costs, the focus on ski academies and boutique resort programs, the search for the next Chosen One™, and the politics of everything simply conspire against holistic and accessible athlete development. I try to keep my mind free of the "what if?" mentality regarding how many potential USST stars never got the chance because of externalities they couldn't control (e.g. family finances, geographic location) as well as the lure from other sports that are more accessible and garner more overall attention from the media and the culture-at-large. I'm sure it's a non-trivial number.
What a great little opinion piece. It deserves a bigger audience.
 
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TS
4ster

4ster

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
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It's been a long road from the Harald Schönhaar days of a deep team that had multiple potential winners in each race, especially on the women's side. When you had a team consisting of McKinney, Cooper, Armstrong, Nelson, and Flanders the chances of good results were fairly good. Add Roffe and Twardokens to the mix shortly thereafter and it was quite strong.
I did my first coaches (USSCA) certification under Harald Schonhaar back when he was still coaching Philip & Stephen as he liked to call them. I was so enlightened about line & tactics that those are things I still carry into my freeskiing today. He was a friendly character & quite inspirational. Great memories & so fortunate to have been exposed to some of these would be legends at a young age :).

& yes the women’s team was as deep as any during that time.
 
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TS
4ster

4ster

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
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IMG_3798.jpeg

GOGGIA
WEIDLE
LGB
 

wnyskier

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Sunday’s Zermatt-Cervinia downhill has also been cancelled due to wind.

That makes it a clean sweep for two years running. The guys on The Ski Racing Podcast were discussing the events last week and commented that the absolute worst time to schedule a race on a glacier is November. Seems common knowledge unless you are FIS or the organizers. Lots of time and money invested on the part of the organizers, teams and athletes that could have been spent on races in better locations like Levi and Kaabdalis where everyone has been training tech in excellent conditions. FWIW Kaabdalis (SWE) is holding men's and women's FIS SL this weekend..... Or maybe schedule men's and women's speed events in western Canada, I seem to recall there is a history of good racing there........
 

Tricia

The Velvet Hammer
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It's been a long road from the Harald Schönhaar days of a deep team that had multiple potential winners in each race, especially on the women's side. When you had a team consisting of McKinney, Cooper, Armstrong, Nelson, and Flanders the chances of good results were fairly good. Add Roffe and Twardokens to the mix shortly thereafter and it was quite strong.

On the men's side you had the Mahres dominating in tech, Johnson's flash-in-the-pan 1984 season followed by the rise of Lewis in 1985, and then... a lot of crickets for years. Some occasional brilliance but by then HS had left the USST system.

But it's true that the athletes who often excel within the modern USST system are Teams of One™ like Shiffrin, Miller, and Vonn. At least the latter two eventually gave a bit back to the team by training with the rest of the squad. I can't see the management of Team Shiffrin doing that - "it's giving away trade secrets!" :rolleyes:

It's obvious looking at the USST social media that the rest of the women's tech team other than Shiffrin train, travel, and race together. The women's speed squad also has the same trait, as do both men's squads. The women's tech team, with Moltzan taking a leadership/mentoring role, is definitely doing well in spite of having The GOAT® train separately. That's awesome and, yes, an outlier in terms of USST mechanics.

There are a lot of things that aren't healthy about the USSS/USST development system. The exorbitant costs, the focus on ski academies and boutique resort programs, the search for the next Chosen One™, and the politics of everything simply conspire against holistic and accessible athlete development. I try to keep my mind free of the "what if?" mentality regarding how many potential USST stars never got the chance because of externalities they couldn't control (e.g. family finances, geographic location) as well as the lure from other sports that are more accessible and garner more overall attention from the media and the culture-at-large. I'm sure it's a non-trivial number.
This could be a stand alone article. Very thought provoking.
 

Lifer

Putting on skis
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75
The more kids we have racing the talent will rise and North America could be dominating the World Cup. Go USST and Canada skiing!
Reminds of a conversation with a well respected coach 30+ years ago. He contended it's what we do with those in the sport, not wishing for those who are not.

Here's your youngsters. GO!
 

Choucas

Getting off the lift
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That makes it a clean sweep for two years running. The guys on The Ski Racing Podcast were discussing the events last week and commented that the absolute worst time to schedule a race on a glacier is November. Seems common knowledge unless you are FIS or the organizers. Lots of time and money invested on the part of the organizers, teams and athletes that could have been spent on races in better locations like Levi and Kaabdalis where everyone has been training tech in excellent conditions. FWIW Kaabdalis (SWE) is holding men's and women's FIS SL this weekend..... Or maybe schedule men's and women's speed events in western Canada, I seem to recall there is a history of good racing there........
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Zermatt/Cervinia area over the years. The terrain all along the border ridge between IT & CH, is notorious for very windy conditions any time of the year. That’s why there were so many surface lifts in the higher reaches on both sides. You would think that the town fathers on both sides of the border would have factored that fact into their plans. I recall many nights in the higher huts wondering if the next gust was going to rip the roof off. Also, I remember experiencing unnerving ground blizzard skiing (not at racing speeds) and being very happy to get to lower elevations. It would be a fun race if they could pull it off, but the odds are against it happening.
 

JCF

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Just the man I want to talk to.
I am planning a trip to Cervinia middle April....
What's it like then ?
 

Choucas

Getting off the lift
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Just the man I want to talk to.
I am planning a trip to Cervinia middle April....
What's it like then ?
Should be ample snow. I was in Valtournenche, which is linked to Cervinia, in April this year. We had fresh snow and very nice untracked skiing on north facing slopes. I was touring with a guide.
Most of Cervinia is south facing so it will get soft quickly if it’s sunny. There can be great corn snow if you time it right. Zermatt has more north facing terrain. The weather and visibility are the unknowns. Hopefully you’ll get lucky with the weather.
 
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Zirbl

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If Valtournenche is still open when you're going, should be fine, though coud be soft lower down - it's less exposed to high winds than Cervinia and has long, good runs. Thing with Cervinia is, with all the wind it gets, it can be closed the day after a storm too due to the avalanche risk. Note Valtournenche closes 21 April this year.
 

Rudi Riet

AKA songfta AKA randomduck - a USSS coach, as well
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Looks like just another day on North East Hardpack.

The big difference here is that hardpack in the northeast tends to be smooth and seamless. Glacial ice often has ripples and holes in it - and often is easier for setting an edge.
 
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TS
4ster

4ster

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
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Glad he had a tail wind & the right structure/wax to keep his speed on that old snow. Edges seemed like they could’ve used a bit more grip though :ogcool:!
 

Rudi Riet

AKA songfta AKA randomduck - a USSS coach, as well
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Glad he had a tail wind & the right structure/wax to keep his speed on that old snow. Edges seemed like they could’ve used a bit more grip though :ogcool:!

Coaches' tune* for the win!

* - most coaches don't tune their skis more than once or twice per season because reasons
 

Uncle-A

In the words of Paul Simon "You can call me Al"
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The big difference here is that hardpack in the northeast tends to be smooth and seamless. Glacial ice often has ripples and holes in it - and often is easier for setting an edge.
I guess I was fortunate that when I went glacier skiing I didn't run into any of that type of ice.
 

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