Alpine Canada Alpin is pleased to announce a series of initiatives aimed at enhancing the development of young ski racers in Canada.

Developed in consultation with Provincial Ski Organizations, coaches, athletes, medical experts and the ski community as a whole, the initiatives draw on the recommendations from a series of meetings held over the past few months, including ACA’s Coaches’ Summit, the Ski Racing Safety Summit and the PSOs Spring Meetings.

The initiatives were formulated, in part, to prepare for the age category re-organization that will be implemented by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in 2012-13.

They also aim to address the issue of athlete retention and the rising cost of participation in ski racing, while at the same time offering a logical and efficient progression of key benchmarking events for our developing athletes.

ACA strongly believes that these initiatives have the potential to strengthen our sport by keeping young athletes in the system longer, at a local level, and reducing the burden and stress of travelling. They also align us with our neighbours in the U.S., allowing us to work together to develop high quality events for developing young athletes.

The new initiatives are as follows:

1. The re-introduction of a Canadian J1 (15-16 years old) championship in 2012 and a Canadian U18 championship for 2013 and beyond. This event will also serve as a qualifier for the senior Canadian championship for all junior athletes.

2. The introduction of new east and west cross-border competitions with the U.S. for K2s (U16 for 2013 and beyond). Following the huge success of the K1 Eastern Can-Am competitions that took place in Eastern Canada and the U.S. over the past few years, ACA will work with the United States Ski and Snowboard Association to host events in the east and the west that will replace the former K2 Canadian championship. This new format will allow us to expose our best K2 racers, and ultimately U16 athletes, to some of the best U.S. athletes of the same age, while reducing the amount of travel. These events will be used to select the top athletes who will represent Canada at the Whistler Cup in 2012.

3. In order to better prepare our developing athletes for future success in downhill ski racing, first and second year FIS athletes will focus on technical disciplines. Training camps will be held to develop speed and downhill skills as an alternative to athletes competing in entry-level downhill competitions. ACA is in the process of creating criteria that will allow some athletes in their two first year of FIS competition to compete in downhill events. This will include at a minimum, a successful participation in the new speed camps as well as minimum FIS points.

The integration of ski cross at every level will also act as a skill development tool for young athletes to further their technical and speed skills. This will allow our athletes to spend more time training technical events and practising specific downhill skills, which will give them a much better base and a solid foundation on which to build for the rest of their career.

More details on these initiatives, as well as plans for revision and updating of other complementary programs and tools including Snow Stars and AIM2WIN, will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months. An update on recommendations from the Ski Racing Safety Summit will be posted at shortly.