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U14 Racing Team Recommendations

JJcat

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Hello everyone!

My son is very into ski racing and will be in U14 next season. He has been racing in a mid-sized mountain for a couple of years and now we are considering switching to a more competitive racing program ideally with more challenging terrain.

At this point, we are considering the weekend alpine racing program. Choices are the racing program at the following mountains:
Mt Snow / Waterville Vally BBTS / Mt Sunapee / Cannon Mountain / Gunstock mountain

I'd be very much appreciated if anyone at this forum could share their experience about those racing programs. I'm interested to know how good the coaching staff are; if kids get chance to train on steep terrain; costs and overall experience.

Clearly Epic mountains have advantage on the season pass - more affordable than the non-Epic mountains mentioned above. So I'm also curious to see how Mt Snow & Mt Sunapee compares to other mountains' racing clubs.

Thank you for sharing your experience! Any comments and tips are welcome!!!
 

thebigo

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My oldest is a u12 at ragged, she will also be training midweek at gunstock next year. I can tell you everything you would ever want to know about the ragged program if interested but not much about the other programs. From my vantage point FSC appears to be the class of the NHARA u14 boys programs, bbts girls program. We do have friends in the FSC program and the point commitment is intense.

Link to this years results, scroll down, u14 champs below schedule: https://www.nhalpine.org/childrens

Edit - another member has extensive experience with the mt snow program and will likely reply.
 

drjeff

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The Mount Snow perspective. And for reference both of my kids went through the Alpine Competition program at Mount Snow from U10 through U16/19 with my oldest now racing in college (she's about to finish her freshman year at Holy Cross) and my youngest having just earned his USSSA level 100 coaching status this past weekend after spending the last 2 seasons as part of a new program the Mount Snow Training Center is running to help develop new coaches (both USSSA and PSIA) if they have interest in coaching and maybe don't want to race USSSA races anymore for various reasons often because members of their friend circle they grew up skiing with stopped skiing/racing every weekend. My son is going to see the feasibility of being an assistant coach next season and being a college freshman going to school in the Boston area at Bentley.

As for the program overall. It has been very good for my kids and the kids of many of my friends as well. It is in a bit of a transition phase right now, as the head coach for all of alpine competition, after 30yrs, has insinuated that this past year may very well be his last year (I have heard that before so I guess I will believe it when I don't see him out coaching at some point...) and there have been some names floated around the mountain of a possible replacement from within the program who I think would be a great option or I am sure an outside search will happen when it's time as well.

Also, the Mount Snow Academy, which is separate from the Alpine Competition Program run out of the Mount Snow Training Center, is in a bit of a transition phase with their Alpine athletes and coaches spending more and more time working together with the Mount Snow Alpine Competition program and that symbiotic relationship seems to be one that will remain going forward for now.

The mountain itself is committed to providing training facilities for the athletes (to the point where often the general public will complain on social media about how many trails are closed for race training many days of the week) and Mount Snow has been working hard to expand its Events Crew which is the group that supports all of the mountains competition programs when races or competitions are hosted as well as help with trail openings and closings for training and course setting and safety net set up.

The thing that happens in the U14 and older age groups is that you often see a dichotomy between athletes who are attending a full time ski academy vs athletes who are in the weekend programs, but not necessarily training any more days a week like the academy athletes do.

And the more races I went to over the years, at various levels, resorts, and states, the more you see the strengths and weaknesses that most every program has. At the end of the day, I strongly feel that if you get your kids in a program where they feel comfortable with their fellow teammates and they like the coaching staff, they're likely going to want to keep with the sport (the big goal!) and become better skiers
 

JJcat

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My oldest is a u12 at ragged, she will also be training midweek at gunstock next year. I can tell you everything you would ever want to know about the ragged program if interested but not much about the other programs. From my vantage point FSC appears to be the class of the NHARA u14 boys programs, bbts girls program. We do have friends in the FSC program and the point commitment is intense.

Link to this years results, scroll down, u14 champs below schedule: https://www.nhalpine.org/childrens

Edit - another member has extensive experience with the mt snow program and will likely reply.
Hi ~ the information you provided is super helpful! Ragged has excellent racing program. If I remember correctly it wins Bronze status from USSA! My family skied there for one season couple of years ago and we all love it. It’s a bit far from us otherwise we would definitely consider to join.

Thanks for the link - it’s interesting to know FSC is a boys program. That is a very good point to know. My son was at Piche invitational last month, and we noticed how BBTS dominates girls competition there. It’s a bit odd to me, for boys racing, the top athletes came from different mountains (not like girls top 4 are all BBTS), and those big mountain academies are not too much outstanding than rest of the relatively speaking smaller mountains ….

When you say the point commitment is intense at FSC, do you mean volunteer work for parents?

Also from the schedule you sent, there are so many races! Generally speaking, how frequent kids needs to attend racing in NHARA - once every two weeks? Thanks!
 

JJcat

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The Mount Snow perspective. And for reference both of my kids went through the Alpine Competition program at Mount Snow from U10 through U16/19 with my oldest now racing in college (she's about to finish her freshman year at Holy Cross) and my youngest having just earned his USSSA level 100 coaching status this past weekend after spending the last 2 seasons as part of a new program the Mount Snow Training Center is running to help develop new coaches (both USSSA and PSIA) if they have interest in coaching and maybe don't want to race USSSA races anymore for various reasons often because members of their friend circle they grew up skiing with stopped skiing/racing every weekend. My son is going to see the feasibility of being an assistant coach next season and being a college freshman going to school in the Boston area at Bentley.

As for the program overall. It has been very good for my kids and the kids of many of my friends as well. It is in a bit of a transition phase right now, as the head coach for all of alpine competition, after 30yrs, has insinuated that this past year may very well be his last year (I have heard that before so I guess I will believe it when I don't see him out coaching at some point...) and there have been some names floated around the mountain of a possible replacement from within the program who I think would be a great option or I am sure an outside search will happen when it's time as well.

Also, the Mount Snow Academy, which is separate from the Alpine Competition Program run out of the Mount Snow Training Center, is in a bit of a transition phase with their Alpine athletes and coaches spending more and more time working together with the Mount Snow Alpine Competition program and that symbiotic relationship seems to be one that will remain going forward for now.

The mountain itself is committed to providing training facilities for the athletes (to the point where often the general public will complain on social media about how many trails are closed for race training many days of the week) and Mount Snow has been working hard to expand its Events Crew which is the group that supports all of the mountains competition programs when races or competitions are hosted as well as help with trail openings and closings for training and course setting and safety net set up.

The thing that happens in the U14 and older age groups is that you often see a dichotomy between athletes who are attending a full time ski academy vs athletes who are in the weekend programs, but not necessarily training any more days a week like the academy athletes do.

And the more races I went to over the years, at various levels, resorts, and states, the more you see the strengths and weaknesses that most every program has. At the end of the day, I strongly feel that if you get your kids in a program where they feel comfortable with their fellow teammates and they like the coaching staff, they're likely going to want to keep with the sport (the big goal!) and become better skiers
Your kids are awesome! That is great achievements and it is wonderful they enjoy ski racing.

Thanks so much for sharing those insights! My friend’s kid joined the vacation week training at mt snow academy and was very happy with the solid training and great coach there. Do you think the weekend program would hold similar level of coaching?

If you wouldn’t mind can you share the tuition (directional doesn’t have to be accurate), I couldn’t find that information online. And if there is a long waiting list (we run into this issue when trying to join Sunapee few years ago).

To your last point - my son loves his current racing team. He made a lot of good friends and I am enjoying ski with the parents. We don’t want to leave there. But we realized he needs to be trained on more steep terrain. The current mountain is very limited. U14 could be a good timing to start … we are hoping to find the next team that we will feel like in a nice big family again!
 

thebigo

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Hi ~ the information you provided is super helpful! Ragged has excellent racing program. If I remember correctly it wins Bronze status from USSA! My family skied there for one season couple of years ago and we all love it. It’s a bit far from us otherwise we would definitely consider to join.

Thanks for the link - it’s interesting to know FSC is a boys program. That is a very good point to know. My son was at Piche invitational last month, and we noticed how BBTS dominates girls competition there. It’s a bit odd to me, for boys racing, the top athletes came from different mountains (not like girls top 4 are all BBTS), and those big mountain academies are not too much outstanding than rest of the relatively speaking smaller mountains ….

When you say the point commitment is intense at FSC, do you mean volunteer work for parents?

Also from the schedule you sent, there are so many races! Generally speaking, how frequent kids needs to attend racing in NHARA - once every two weeks? Thanks!
Approximate race schedule:

Two preseason events in January, one each GS and SL.
Three divisional ranking events in February.
Champs and either piche or one post season race in March.

Second hand information but we were told FSC parents work six races for their volunteer commitment, our friend has only one kid in the program. FSC has both a girls and boys program. I wouldn't read too much into results from a single year, just wanted to provide a sampling. You are asking at the correct time of year, programs definitely do sell out and usually begin registration in the spring.
 

drjeff

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Your kids are awesome! That is great achievements and it is wonderful they enjoy ski racing.

Thanks so much for sharing those insights! My friend’s kid joined the vacation week training at mt snow academy and was very happy with the solid training and great coach there. Do you think the weekend program would hold similar level of coaching?

If you wouldn’t mind can you share the tuition (directional doesn’t have to be accurate), I couldn’t find that information online. And if there is a long waiting list (we run into this issue when trying to join Sunapee few years ago).

To your last point - my son loves his current racing team. He made a lot of good friends and I am enjoying ski with the parents. We don’t want to leave there. But we realized he needs to be trained on more steep terrain. The current mountain is very limited. U14 could be a good timing to start … we are hoping to find the next team that we will feel like in a nice big family again!

As for the pricing, for the weekend Mount Snow Academy program, last I knew, and that was in the pre Covid season, it was about $6k. Not sure what it is these days. I do have a few friends who's kids are in their weekend alpine program. Right around when Covid hit there was a group of parents who had their kids in either the weekend or full winter term program who moved their kids to the full time programs at either the Stratton Mountain School or Green Mountain Valley School. To my knowledge Mount Snow Academy didn't have any full time Winter term boarding students this past year.

The Alpine Comp program at Mount Snow was about $2500 last season as I recall.

There are no on hill parent commitment days for either of the programs as Vail Resorts requires those working a race, or doing race related things like registration, to be Vail Resort employees. There often are some loose parental things that get done in an unofficial capacity more on the social side of things
 

drjeff

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Certainly more expensive for parents if nothing else....
Honestly the race team fees haven't changed much at all since Vail took over for Peak, and if anything the pass prices dropped at bit.

The biggest thing for race parents in my neck of the woods is that under IKON the last few years, Stratton barely gives any discount for racer parent tickets whereas they used to give roughly 50% off
 

deadheadskier

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I'll share my experience with Gunstock. I have my son in their race Devo program run by the mountain. This is separate from the more formal Gunstock ski club. I have met several parents who have kids in the Club program and they love it, but all say it's a major commitment that really cuts into their own skiing. They put out some really good racers though. In fact probably the best adult male ski racer in New England that isn't a pro is an alumni of GSC. Matt Dodge is his name.

My son really enjoys racing and I have presented the option to go from the Gunstock Race Devo program to GSC. He has seen that doing so would mean we would be skiing Gunstock only for the most part and virtually every day skiing will be race training. He shot it down because he loves all types of skiing and visiting various mountains on Saturdays and doing his race training on Sundays only at Gunstock. That program is just two hours every Sunday and he can do it up until age 14. From there he could move on to our local highschool team or often times the alumni of Devo get their first jobs as coaches in the program.

We shall see what direction he takes when that time comes. Maybe he changes his mind and does decide to do GSC. Selfishly I hope not because I find those programs too intense of a time commitment for a child and their families with almost no chance of going pro and limited chance even racing in college at top program. I also like exploring numerous mountains around New England with he and his younger sister. But, I will support him if he does decide to go GSC. I don't know how much GSC costs, but the one day a weekend Devo program is only $400 (plus end of season tip). It's a great value, the coaching is good and we spend Saturdays skiing trees and bumps. Ultimately I think this path will lead him to being a better skier overall.
 

thebigo

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The Alpine Comp program at Mount Snow was about $2500 last season as I recall.
Holy shit. Total for both my kids programs was <$2K last year with around 45 total program days. Volunteer commitment had my wife as volunteer registrar twice; I gate judged one u10 race and bib collection for another race. Fine is around $500 if you do not meet volunteer requirement, not sure if that is per kid or per family.
 

drjeff

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Holy shit. Total for both my kids programs was <$2K last year with around 45 total program days. Volunteer commitment had my wife as volunteer registrar twice; I gate judged one u10 race and bib collection for another race. Fine is around $500 if you do not meet volunteer requirement, not sure if that is per kid or per family.
Similar number of days at Mount Snow (Porgram runs from the 1st weekend in December through the last weekend in March with additional days during X-Mas week and Pres week and on MLK day for some age groups. Around 80 athletes in the program this past year, roughly a dozen coaches. Alpine comp hosted U12 and U14 GS races and U10 and U12 skills competitions this past season, and they are hoping to get a trail homologated for U16/19 SL racing either this Summer or next year. The club also hosted a USASA Slopestyle competition (both alpine and snowboard) as well as a USSSA B mogul event this past year, and I am told will be bidding on hosting a USSSA skier/boardercross event for next season. So the club is active on all fronts after having decreased the number of events it was hosting and fallen off a bit during the later Peak years. Vail is giving them the resources to build things back up, which has been a good thing to see, even as my kids age out of their own competition days for the club.

Southern VT Council which the club is a part of is comprised of Mount Snow, Stratton, Magic, Bromley and Willard (NY) and depending on if they do or don't have a club that year, The Hermitage - they didn't have a club last year as most of their young athletes who want to race now go through the weekend program that Mount Snow Academy offers
 

thebigo

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Wow, I would have guessed 300+ kids easily at Mt Snow.

Ragged is at 225 kids, doubled in the last ~6 years. Our head coach is also stepping down this year, still running coaching clinics but not coaching u16 or masters next year. I have also heard rumors but nothing confirmed.

Around ten u8 coaches, six u10 coaches, five u12 coaches and five u14 coaches. Plus maybe a half dozen dev coaches. Not sure about the ranked kids.

Our division is sunapee, proctor, cardigan, Ford Sayre and whaleback - although I do not believe they fielded a team last year. We won overall youth points for the division last year and brought either the second or third most kids to champs in the state.

Other divisions certainly produce good results and the occasional champion but with LRT, BBTS and FSC - the northern division dominates NHARA.
 

Newpylong

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I would certainly give Ragged another look. I have heard nothing but good things from cost to coaching to the program itself. I think the enrollment #s speak for themselves.

Timewise it should no different getting there than any of the other areas mentioned?
 

drjeff

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Wow, I would have guessed 300+ kids easily at Mt Snow.

Ragged is at 225 kids, doubled in the last ~6 years. Our head coach is also stepping down this year, still running coaching clinics but not coaching u16 or masters next year. I have also heard rumors but nothing confirmed.

Around ten u8 coaches, six u10 coaches, five u12 coaches and five u14 coaches. Plus maybe a half dozen dev coaches. Not sure about the ranked kids.

Our division is sunapee, proctor, cardigan, Ford Sayre and whaleback - although I do not believe they fielded a team last year. We won overall youth points for the division last year and brought either the second or third most kids to champs in the state.

Other divisions certainly produce good results and the occasional champion but with LRT, BBTS and FSC - the northern division dominates NHARA.
If ytou factor in the Mount Snow Academy athletes who train alongside the Mount Snow Training Center athletes the majority of the time, there's probably 130-140 alpine competition athletes between the 2 programs. If you also then add in the Freestyle competiton athletes, that number is probably in the 250 athletes range, and then add in another 175 participants in the Mount Snow Development Program and there's somewhere North of 400 young individuals in programs run out of either the Mount Snow Training Center or Mount Snow Academy. The Alpine Competition Programs are bouncing back numbers wise, but still 50+ athletes or more short of where they were 10 or so years ago when my kids started in them. The freestyle side, with the Carinthia park facilities right there, have picked up quite a bit over the last 10 years
 

Phish'83

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If you have the option for Cannon, that's where I would go. The northern VT/NH kids always have a leg up over mid/south kids. Look at where Burke/Cannon/Stowe kids train vs. Mount Snow/Okemo/Sunapee. Its night and day....
 

DrPeteG

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A few years ago had kids in Killington program was happy with it when kids were young. When they reached 13 the focus of coaches moved to those at KMS. We wanted to continue with just weekends. After a year we saw that it would be best to move the kids to Pico. Was very happy with that program and still support it when I can, even though I don't have kids in it any longer. Great coaches and they are dedicated to all kids in the program. If you are looking at larger programs where an academy is also present make sure you evaluate that the weekend program kids get their fair share of attention
 

JJcat

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Honestly the race team fees haven't changed much at all since Vail took over for Peak, and if anything the pass prices dropped at bit.

The biggest thing for race parents in my neck of the woods is that under IKON the last few years, Stratton barely gives any discount for racer parent tickets whereas they used to give roughly 50% off

Wow, that is a great benefit to have 50% off for Ikon. I had no idea Ikon offers that to certain mountains. We don't get any discount at our home mountain (not mega pass mountain). But we do have the privilege to buy pass for racer and family members at registration even the season pass is sold out.
 
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