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Western Alpine Region News Update - October 2020

By Bill Gunesch
October, 30 2020

The Western Region staff - Angie, Fletch, Pick and Bill - welcomes everyone to the 2020-21 Alpine season.  The Summer and Fall months have been packed with video conference calls discussing how to make ski racing happen during a global pandemic.  Now, just in time for the winter weather, we have plans, we have guidance, we have calendars built at all levels.  We’re eager for the season to begin.  “Nimble” flexibility (coined by Will Brandenburg) is the term for this season.  There will likely be changes as we go.

Our sport changed last March when U.S. Ski & Snowboard canceled the remainder of the 2020 season.  Due to the growing pandemic and restrictions placed on our NGB, Western Region was forced to cancel five U14/U16 projects, and five FIS RTG projects from the summer and fall preparation period; over 65 training days with our athletes lost.

On a positive note, over 25 western clubs took advantage of summer training on Mt. Hood, which opened the Palmer Snowfield from mid-June through August.  Western Region Junior Coach, Jeff Pickering, and Western Region FIS Coach, Fletcher McDonald were on the snowfield for two weeks in July and were able to check in with athletes and coaches from many clubs.

Timberline Ski Area enforced strict preventive practices, including face coverings, distancing in lift lines, minimal lodge use, etc.  During the 10-week summer season, the area experienced over 44,000 skier visits, and to-date, no case of Covid-19 has been traced back to Timberline.  This is encouraging news as we prepare to host large groups of athletes at events this winter.

The typical Summer and Fall meetings, beginning with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Congress, were held virtually.  This format enabled a larger and more diverse group of participants to attend meetings and collaborate with leadership, improving communication and cooperation among the various constituents of our sport.  Links to relevant presentations are:  Alpine Development Director’s Report, Western Region Director’s Report and US Ski & Snowboard Membership Report.  These report links along with others can be found on the Western Region webpage.

Perhaps the biggest challenge over the past several months has been the preparation of our competition calendars.  Race organizers, divisional leadership and the ski resorts all had concerns and questions that needed to be answered.  Regional staff and leadership are pleased with the events we were able to schedule.  The race calendar, and more, follow in this update.

One final note; competition opportunities may not be as plentiful this year.  But that’s OK.  Take advantage of the time at home to “train to develop,” and not only “train to race.”  And freeski, a lot!  Take the time to ski all terrain and all conditions.  The West’s greatest alpine racers have all been amazing skiers.  Stay safe.  Stay healthy.  And most of all, have fun!


Regional and Divisional Racing

Leaders from Western Region and the five divisions have been meeting weekly throughout the late summer and fall to discuss plans for hosting safe competitions during the Covid-19 pandemic.  U.S. Ski & Snowboard produced two documents to help explain the current environment and provide a safer path for race organizers to follow: Covid-19 Domestic Competition Guidance and Alpine Domestic Competitions Guidance. The policies and recommendations are intended to reduce risk of exposure to Covid-19 by reducing travel, reducing the number of athletes at a race, and reducing the number of volunteers needed to host a race.

Some of the changes this year, while the coronavirus continues to be a significant concern, will include:

  • The start to  national racing will be delayed
  • A maximum of 100 competitors on race day
  • Often, there will be separate race days for men and women
  • When conditions allow, two races for the same gender may be held on a single day
  • Limits on athletes in the start and finish areas
  • Specific policies and schedules for course inspection
  • Virtual meetings and awards presentations
  • Reduced number of officials and volunteers working the race

Also, be aware of policies and restrictions that host resorts may impose on athletes and parents.

Here is the link to the Western Regions 2020-21 calendar schedule.  This is a work-in-progress and will be updated often.  Also, check the FIS Calendar, the USSA calendar, and your divisional calendar for local races.


News from U.S. Ski & Snowboard

A significant amount of information has come together the past few weeks as Covid-19 questions are answered and consequent plans are made.  If you missed the recent message from U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO, Tiger Shaw, please read his update.  Also, Alpine Development Director, Chip Knight, reports on current national development projects and other current alpine issues in his latest update.

The Alpine Sport Committee’s Fall Meeting was Friday, October 23rd.  The meeting minutes with approved proposals will be included in our next update.  However, the ban on using fluorinated wax was amended and approved.  It will state: the use of fluorinated wax at all non-FIS levels of training and competition in the U.S. is prohibited.  

Important:  November 1st is the deadline to renew your membership with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard before paying a late fee.  If your waffling with regard to the upcoming season - have faith!  Our clubs, divisions and sport leaders are doing everything they can to provide a safe and exciting experience for our athletes, young and old.  Read Membership Service’s recent email to help answer your questions.

Western Region FIS Coach, Fletcher McDonald, spent all of September and some of October in Europe coaching with the USST Men’s D-Team.  Here are Fletcher’s brief notes on the D-Team Europe training.


2021 W.E.S.T. Team

Western Region nominates WEST Team athletes each Spring based on objective criteria and results from the season.  Athletes are officially named to the team in October.  USST D-Team athletes are automatic members of the WEST Team.  Congratulations to these athletes for their accomplishments, and good wishes for the coming season.


  • D-Team Wilkinson, Alix 2000 SVST
  • D-Team Macuga, Lauren 2002 PCSS
  • 1 Bocock, Mary 2003 RM
  • 2 Romanov, Dasha 2003 SVSEF
  • 3 Woodruff, Kaelin 2003 SBSTA
  • 4 Tozzi, Sophia 2003 JHSC 
  • 5 Kaiserman, Madison 2004 PCSS


  • D-Team Smith, Jack 2001 SVSEF
  • 1 Mathers, Jeremy 2001 SBSEF
  • 2 Snyder, Bennett 2001 TCRA
  • 3 Parazette, Oliver 2002 JHSC
  • 4 Travis, Gunnar 2003 PCSS
  • 5 Brown, Benny 2003 PCSS
  • 6 Sarchett, Ryder 2003 SVSEF 

To learn more about WEST Team criteria and team benefits refer to the 2020 Western Region Handbook.  (The 2021 Handbook will be available soon.  Link to the appendix draft for current information.)


Coaches Education

The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Sport Education Department hosted a fantastic Club Excellence series of webinars this fall, delivered by the Apollo Group from the USOPC.  The four sessions included four continuing education credits for coaches.  Here are the links if you missed the series.  If you would like to earn the four education credits be sure to register at Fall Summit.



A Skillsquest Fitness Testing webinar was held in September targeting coaches and clubs instructing them how to administer an in-house test.  If you missed the webinar, click HERE for the link to the recording.  The webinar was excellent.  Click HERE for the powerpoint presentation by Calin Butterfield, US Ski & Snowboard Sport Science Department.  Due to COVID, US Ski & Snowboard is not requiring testing to be completed in regionally validated sessions.  Clubs are encouraged to perform the testing based on the guidelines provided in the presentation & webinar.  Also, here are links to the Shuttle Run audio and the Push Ups audio


Divisional Websites

Contact your divisional office for local race calendars, race officials training, and Fall meeting schedules.