Racing Questions

Who should go to races?

More experienced racers typically enjoy competing in away meets at other mountains around central Pennsylvania. Depending on their results, many will be invited to the State Championships or Derbies for their age class – and some may advance to Regional meets in New England. Traveling, and racing away is an individual enterprise. Important: Parents and racers are responsible for obtaining registration/fee information and submitting the forms on time – and on their own. There is a lot of paperwork in ski racing, and it is not a team activity.One of the primary issues for the athlete to think about (especially the younger athletes) is the value of going to race and only getting in a two runs in the gates and a handful of other runs in the day is more valuable than a full day of training at home. The decision to focus on training for younger athletes will likely be rewarded when the athletes are older and begin traveling to races.

Whitetail will host a series of fun races at Whitetail so that our younger athletes can enjoy the thrill of competition, but not at the expense of lost training time. Coaches can be a good resource in this decision making process and certainly both training and racing are important, but too much racing will not yield long-term success.

What memberships do I need?

You’ll need a USSA competitor’s license to compete at races and be a member of WTSEF. You will need a membership with PARA if you plan to go to the state championships (aka The Derby) and if you qualify there for any post season events like Invitationals, Finals, Junior Olympics, etc.

I lost my card.

You can request a replacement from USSA’s website (fee involved) and print a temporary proof of membership to bring to a race. It’s a good idea to keep a photocopy of your card in you bootbag.

Where do I stay?

We’ll continue to develop this list as the seasons progress. Please save your hotels of choice and any commentary/reviews/pricing of them and where they are so it can be a more valuable resource next season. Please include the following items in your review so that we can really develop a good tool for future and current club members.

  • name of motel/hotel:
  • mountain ski resort it's near/services:
  • motel hotel town:
  • time/distance to ski resort:
  • price:
  • tuning facilities (y/n):
  • other notes:

When should I show up?

Earlier is always better than later. WTSEF coaches want our athletes up the first chairs when the lift opens. This allows them to do a couple of very important things. First it is much easier to inspect the course when it’s not crawling with 250 athletes, attached coaches and parents. Typically they can get two or three high quality course inspections and still have time for warm up runs.

Plan on being at the hill one hour before the lifts open, so there is plenty of time for breakfast (if needed) and getting dressed. Most athletes choose to get their speed suits on at the lodge as they are not comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. These times may change. You can typically work back from the start time 2-2.5 hours as an arrival time. Arrival time is especially important for women as they have much less time between arrival and when they start racing. Men will have an addition hour or so while the women run the course.

What happens at a race?

Fun. Fun. Fun. It’s pretty obvious. Spend 15 minutes on top of any PARA race course and you’re likely to see big smiles on kids’ faces. The kids love racing against their peers. There are occasionally a few tears and frustrated kids, but this is a complicated and sometimes difficult sport. With great reward, occasionally comes disappointment.

How do I qualify for state championships, and other post-season events like Junior Olympics, Finals, Invitationals, Future Stars?

Invitations to these events are based on performance at specific races throughout the season, like PA Cup/Derby qualifiers, or performance at the state championships. The exact qualification criteria can be reviewed at PARA’s website.

What are my responsibilities at a ski race?

In short, nearly everything. You are responsible for getting there on time and being ready to race. If you would like the coach to assist in your race course inspection etc., it is your responsibility to meet the coach where and when he says. Coaches will not force a group of athletes to wait for someone who is late, etc. If you have any problems during your run, like hiking, missing a gate, etc, you should communicate those to your coach ASAP. The time window to lodge a protest is very short and if a coach doesn’t know of an issue he/she can’t submit a protest on your behalf. You need to be completely responsible for all of your gear, clothing, getting warmup clothing down the hill etc.

What are the coach’s responsibilities at a ski race?

The racing coach is there to officially represent the athlete to USSA. Coaches assist the athlete with course inspection, and getting ready at the top of the course before the each run. Please review the article in the FAQ section entitled "A Parent's Guide to Race".

Where Can I find the Race Schedules

PARA website


What are points lists/points?

Points lists are the method that USSA employs to rank and equate competitors on a local and national arena. They are used to create start orders for older athletes. Points lists are typically released once a month through the ski season and valid until the next list is released. The objective is to lower a ski racer's points from a starting point of 990. A ski racer has points for each of the four events (SL, GS, SG, DH). DON'T WORRY OR BE CONCERNED WITH POINTS… When skills progress, points will naturally fall and reflect it.

Start Orders…how are they determined?

  • Start orders for J5-J3 are determined by random selection.
  • Start orders for J2-J1, Sr are determined by a national point ranking system of the USSA.

Generally the 30 racers with the lowest points are randomized. Racers 31 + are in point order.

How are Points determined?

A racer starts with 990 points in each discipline (slalom, gs, etc). Points are only kept for J2, J1, and SR. J4 & J5s do not score points.

Points are determined by racing. At each race a competitor who finishes both runs is scored with a point value for that race called Total Race Points. In a given period of time (generally 1 month) the point values earned in several races of the same type (slalom) are averaged and those points are used to determine future start orders. If a racer finishes two races in the same event type in a given 1 month point period the average of those two best races becomes the racer's new points. If a racer only finishes one race in an event type, those points are averaged with the old points.

Total Race points are determined by two factors: first by how close your time was as compared to the winner of the race (Race Points) and second by averaging the current points of the best 5 points of the top 10 finishers. (Penalty Points). Those two factors (penalty points and race points) are added together and the result is Total Race Points A racer improves points by skiing against better skiers with lower points and by skiing well in relation to those skiers. It’s actually quite a bit more complex than that and if you have additional questions talk to a coach.