November Newsletter - From the Director
Brad Taylor - Director Alpine Operations, The Heights Ski & Country Club
Performance Level Certified, C.S.I.A Level 3, National Coaching Diploma - Toronto 2005, Level 3 Official
Welcome to the 2017/18 snow season. Now that we have seen our first snow fall, it is time to really get excited about winter activities at the club. I am starting to settle into my role and have met a number of staff and club members along the way. I am set up in the race office on the lower level. Please feel free to drop in and say hi. I am happy to answer any questions about our Snow Programs or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Season. New Direction.
You may encounter a few changes at the club this season in the Snow Sports Department. I spent the month of October speaking with all the stakeholders about the direction and vision for the club programs for the next 5 years. Through my discussions and with co-operation from the Board, I feel confident that the club is going in the right direction and that we will be able to offer a number of streams of programming that best suits all of our membership. From entry level ski learn to ski/board programs to freestyle and skier cross. Recreational racing to Masters Level racing, we can offer a wide range of instruction/coaching that will allow our young skiers the opportunity to stay at the club, and explore a range of disciplines to encourage the "ski for life" culture The Heights' can offer.
The Heights - Program Goals
- To create a “Ski for Life” culture amongst our members.
- To build The Heights racing/snow sports program into one which exceeds its membership’s expectations for safety, FUN and skill development.
- To provide a creative outlet for young skiers to explore, challenge, and develop their skills in a positive and trusting learning environment.
- To follow the LTAD (Long Term Athlete Development) model as described by Canadian Sport for Life initiative. Check out their website here!
- The Heights racing programs will increase membership subscriptions to the Club because parents will want their children to participate in our programs.
- The Heights racing/snow sports programs will support and supply extensive staff training. Our staff will be Certified and Licensed. Our coaches/instructors will stay current to NEW and diverse coaching methodologies.
New Coaching/Instructing Pathways
There has been a change in the structure of the two Associations that manage coach education/instruction in Canada. The Canadian Ski Coaches Federation is no longer an entity and coach education is now governed and administrated by Alpine Canada. It is no longer necessary to follow both pathways to cross certify as they have a separate membership criteria and serve different mandates within the ski industry. Both Alpine Canada (ACA) and the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance (CSIA) have incorporated a CBET (Competency Based Education and Training) style to certify our teachers/coaches. This means coaches/instructors will be trained first through a 3 day course or Instructor training program at the club. They are then allowed to be an assistant until they are "Certified" competent in the field by a qualified Coach/Instructor mentor. At that point they can lead a group and are responsible to stay current and up to date to continue to qualify to work in our industry. Coaches and instructors are now under more scrutiny when it comes to licensing and standards. This is better for all, as it ensures that all coaches/instructors deliver a consistent message and safe program regardless of which level or association they are a member of.
If you are interested in becoming a Coach or Instructor and have questions. Please contact the race office for more information.
Get Ready for Winter
There is lots to do between now and opening day to get ready to enjoy another Canadian winter. Here are a few tips and reminders that we should all be aware about to make the early season more enjoyable.
- Check and Tune Up all equipment
- Dust off the skis/boards and send them out to be waxed (or learn to do it yourself). There are lots of YouTube videos around that will teach even the most novice skier the right way to tune a pair of skis. Gates & Boards can take care of all your tuning needs.
- Ski/board sizing. This is important. Make sure you speak to a coach or qualified equipment supplier to properly fit the length, stiffness and radius of ski/board to your abilities. Please don't show up to day one of programs without first trying out new equipment.
- Try on your boots - To do this, wear the same socks you would ski in. Put on your boots and walk around the house in them for at least a half an hour (stay on the carpet). If you can walk outside on a colder day this would help stiffen the plastic and provide a better feel to how the boot fits this season. Our feet change quite a bit from season to season. A boot that fit last year may NOT fit this season. Boots these days require a lot of personal adjustments given everyone's foot is different. Please take the time to fit your boots so they are not only warm but provide no pressure points on the foot. If they are tight in a warm house, they will hurt on the snow. See a coach or a qualified boot fitter for more information.
- Make sure ski poles are the right length. Remember boot sole and binding heights differ from ski to ski. You must properly size the ski pole so it is effective as a timing mechanism in skiing. Here's a video that explains proper ski pole sizing. CLICK HERE.
- Clothing - Try on coats, pants, hats, gloves etc. Make sure they fit and are in good shape before day 1. Get them out and wash/dry clean before you need them. Zippers should be in good repair.
- Specialized gear - Make sure all specialized gear (race padding, teaching aids etc) is all tuned up, fixed and ready to go for day 1.
- Why not start this season off on the right foot. Its not to late to start a stretching, yoga, or exercise routine to get the body ready to move in December. What you do this month will pay benefits next month. If you require any information on dry land conditioning routines, please email Brad
Snow Stars - New for 2017/18
Let’s face it - we don’t have the highest vertical in Canada. So, how does a club like ours remain competitive against the escarpment clubs or the academy’s? We need to be MORE creative. “Time on Snow” is what creates great skiers – and that does not necessarily mean “Time in Gates”. Our programs utilize the Alpine Canada “Snow Stars” development program to efficiently benchmark and develop all components of ski technique. By introducing skills at the right time, athletes/children will learn proper ski technique faster and easier.
This season ALL athletes in all disciplines will be bench-marked against the Alpine Canada Snow Stars skill attributes. You can find more information on the 7 levels of “Snow Stars” at Snowstars.ca . We encourage all parents to check out the Videos on Snow Stars levels 1-7.
2017/18 U14 OCUP - A joint effort with Glacier Ski Club
OCUP (or Ontario Cup) racing is the highest level of racing below F.I.S. (National/International) level racing in our province. For athletes to compete at this level, it requires a considerable amount of commitment through time, financial support and training. If we were to equate OCUP to hockey it could compare to a regional rep team who plays up to 3 or 4 times a week at various arenas. One step below a Junior level commitment.
For this season we have a committed group of families that have qualified to compete at this level. To assist in training and development opportunities, The Heights' has teamed up with our neighbors to the north, Glacier Ski Club, to create a larger training squad and provide better terrain choices for our members to train on. This team will train at both Mt. St. Louis and at various escarpment clubs to better prepare to race on longer and steeper terrain. They will occasionally train here at The Heights'. Please make our Glacier families and athletes welcome if you see them on hill or in the clubhouse. Qualification for an OCUP program is for athletes to ski at Snow Stars Level 5 or above. For more information about OCUP teams please contact Brad.
Frequently Asked Race Questions
How are ski teams/groups selected? It has been proven that skiers of “like” ability should train and race together within their age group. We will utilise Snow Stars skill attribute bench marks to determine skills and abilities within each age group up to U12. Time trials will ONLY be used as a skill attribute NOT as a time benchmark for U10 athletes.
Why aren’t my kids doing more gate training? Generally speaking young racers should only spend 25% of the season training time in gates including practice and racing. It is very difficult to learn basic skiing skills when skiing gates. Young skiers will progress much more quickly when they spend time perfecting their skiing skills. As they get older (14+ years of age) they will gradually spend more time doing gate training and race simulations up to but not in excess of 50% over the entire season.
Why are other clubs training in gates more than us? This is only a perception. Most clubs do their free skiing skill development (up to 25 days) in the early season in fall camps before a lot of other clubs start their programs. When they get to the competition season (January to March) the training focus turns to race preparation in courses.
Why do coaches stand around so much, shouldn’t they be skiing with the kids more? Taking a position at the top, side or bottom of the training run enables the coach to speak individually to each racer as they arrive or leave the training hill. The emphasis is on the racer’s skiing and the feedback that the coach is able to provide based on their direction and observation of the racer’s performance. Young athletes learn much more by “doing” than they do by the more passive forms of listening and viewing.
What can I do as a parent to help my child’s team? You can volunteer to be a Team Manager, volunteer to help host your child’s at home races, take the time to get to know your child’s coaches and speak to them about what they are doing. Come to all your child’s races and special events and perhaps help to organize one.
Do the kids have to wear their helmet all the time? Yes. We require all race participants, including coaches, to wear a helmet whenever they are free skiing, gate training, or racing.
Does my child need pole guards and shin guards? Young racers should not have pole guards or shin guards until such time as they are ready to “cross block” slalom gates. This rarely happens before U14. If they have this equipment before they are technically ready, it will cause them to reach across their body to hit the poles and this results in them developing poor technique. Consult the coaching staff before you get this equipment for your child.
Do my kids need two pairs of skis? It is not until U14 that young racers start to train and compete in specifically different events - Slalom & Giant Slalom. At U14 and older it is difficult and could be at times dangerous for young racers to be training or racing on the wrong size and shape of skis. Slalom skis are shorter and turn much quicker than GS skis which are intended for larger and faster turns.
What is Snow Stars Skills day? Skills day consists of various stations that are set up by the coaches for the athletes to ski through. Some include moguls, brushes, stubbies, full gates and timing. All the stations challenge the athletes in a safe environment. Athletes will be benchmarked against the Alpine Canada Snow Stars skill attributes.
For more information on Snow Sports Programs, please contact Brad in the Race Office.
Check back for next month's newsletter.