In 2010 in Vancouver, BC the Olympic Games premiered a new format of alpine skiing competition – Ski Cross. The introduction of this event in the Olympics showcased a tremendously entertaining spectator event, featuring high-level skiing skills and absolute clarity in identifying winners: the first at the finish line is the winner. After this debut, resorts in Europe and Canada saw an opportunity to use this as a way to attract and entertain guests, creating ski cross courses for public use. And, time has shown this was a smart move, with resort visitors able to try a new experience, in a controlled, well-built venue, without the risk or need to take on big jumps, without having to go too fast, while at the same time providing almost unlimited horizons for skill development and improvement.
Michael Berry, President of NSAA, has said: “Without an industry-wide effort focused on attracting newer, younger participants and converting them into loyal skiers and riders, ski areas could face dramatic declines in visitation in the not-so-distant future.” Hence, it is in our best interest to apply new strategies to attracting and retaining young new athletes.
I couldn’t agree more. With over 20 years of experience owning and managing a ski resort, as well as 14 years of experience in organizing ski cross racing programs for athletes from age three to World Cup winners, adding a ski cross course helped my Resort to not only survive but to become highly successful in its development programs, attracting young people and converting them into regular customers. This article will introduce you to how to develop and utilize a ski cross to convert new generations into long- term (and potentially lifelong) participants at your resort.
There’s no question about the popularity of Terrain Base LearningTM programs, its role in attracting new customers to skiing and riding, and it uses as an effective teaching method, helping inspire guests to come back again. Ski cross courses offer an exciting continuation of that sculpted snow experience for guest to enjoy as their skills continue to advance, even as experts.
Above is an example of an actual beginner level ski cross course. What makes this unique is that almost all of the obstacles are built to be no higher than just below the knee of the average user and use careful layout to adjust the relative steepness or pitch of the course. This not only helps regulate how fast someone can go it also allows for a variety of features or obstacles to be used throughout the course, more so than just a series of banked turns. See below for a sample layout. While the features used in a terrain park and ski cross course may share some similarities, the combination and flow of the ski cross course provides a fun-filled, thrilling option to terrain parks for adult skiers and kids, giving them an experience and sensations similar to what might be felt on rides at amusement parks such as Disney World or Six Flags.
How can your area or resort benefit?
1. Ski school programs – Use the courses as another tool to help develop skills and technique at all levels. Absorbing skills, maintaining balance in varying terrain, and developing flow through the course are all valuable skills that directly apply to skiing and riding the entire hill. Ski courses give your instructors an opportunity to increase the variety within a lesson.
2. Organized Ski and Snowboard Cross events – Offering events open to the general public are a great way to introduce excitement and give your guests another way to create memories they will want to share with their friends and family. Keeping these events fun, using simplified ski cross rules, provides a way for guests of all ages to get a taste for friendly competition in a non-intimidating format. And, of course, if your area has a development or competition program, you can apply to host an event or series of events that could feed kids towards USASA, USSA, and USSX competitions.
3. Development and Competition programs – Ski and Snowboard Cross offers athletes in your programs another discipline they can compete in and may attract new athletes to your program. With Ski and Snowboard Cross as an Olympic sport, this might be the incentive for someone to sign up for your competition or development programs. And, if you already offer training in Ski of SB Cross, having a course available at your area eliminates the need to travel to train on an actual course.
4. Sponsorships – Ski and snowboard cross races may draw in different sponsors and advertisers and provide new opportunities for existing partners.
Here are a few key facts regarding international ski cross-
In 2011, Audi became a title sponsor of Ski Cross World Cup. Afterward, they organized the Audi Ski Cross Tour and the Ski Cross Kids Tour throughout Europe, creating eight Audi Ski Cross Parks at major Switzerland ski resorts. Since then, ski cross courses have grown in popularity with families and kids, and Audi has plans to expand this network even further.
- A few examples of ski resorts with ski cross courses: Saas-Fee, Switzerland; Val Thorens, France; Sierra Nevada, Spain; San Candido, Italy; Montafon, Austria; Idre Fjäll, Switzerland; Hemsedal, Norway; Blue Mountain, Canada; Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada; Nakiska, Canada; Sunridge, Canada.
- The number of children involved in ski cross in Europe and Canada is growing significantly.
- The television broadcast of ski cross receives viewers and ratings comparable to other skidisciplines.
- The International Olympic Committee-sanctioned International Children ́s Winter Gamesfeatured kids ski cross.
United States Ski Cross (USSX) has worked to develop the resources necessary for you to implement a ski cross at your resort. We offer a number of turn-key programs, resources, and support for areas that offer ski cross in their development and competition programs and to the general public.
For more information, contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Faithfully yours,
President United State Ski Cross (USSX)