US Nationals are possibly the most fun races I attend every spring. Not only are they great scoring opportunities for your career but they are also a really cool event because it is one of the few times that all the elite skiers from the good ol’ US of A come together for a few days of shenanigans. “Shenanigans” does not mean “party” in this instance, (for they are still serious races), rather a collection of great friends thrust together after a long season of trial and error, ups and downs, who are enjoying some of the last races of the season together, the prospect of spring thick in the air.
Now, when I say “a collection of great friends” I mean it quite literally. The whole field, both men and woman, somewhere between 200-250 people are sort of like a very large family. The ski racing community is quite a small one so when you are at an event like US Nationals everyone is quite amicable and friendly. Whether you are are world cup skier, or if it is your first US National experience, I am pretty sure just about everyone knows every single person racing. And no, that is not an exaggeration.
Unfortunately this year I will NOT be attending US Nationals.
The qualification procedure works through your individual division, and skiing for GMVS I am part of the eastern division. The way the eastern division picks racers for Nationals is through the Eastern Cup series. For every top 15 you earn at an E-Cup you score points that goes to an overall score for the season, and at the end of the season the top 10 of the overall are granted automatic spots to US Nationals. Last season I won the overall with strong performances in most of the E-Cup races I attended.
This season however I have done much less of those races, either because I am out west, or racing on the North American circuit. (Not to say it would have been a simple matter of racing E-Cups because those few that I did were a challenge!) But still, whether from not preforming well in the right races or simply not attending, it is the same conclusion. Without an automatic spot to the National event I appealed to coaches and directors alike. And unfortunately I was met with the same reply each place I went. A firm “No”.
The greater powers that be feel it would be “inappropriate” to give a spot to me, when that spot could be granted to a younger athlete who may qualify for development team criteria. I am saddened by their decision but respect their wishes to develop the youth of our sport. I only wish that coming off my best Nor-Am season that there were a few division spots reserved for those athletes looking to further their career by branching out to the more elite races.
The fellow athletes I have told my situation to have all been as surprised and frustrated as me, perhaps even more so, and for that I thank them for their support. But the fact of the matter is no, I will not be attending US Nationals this year because I did not qualify. I am not too worried about it, for it is not overly important. What is important is focusing my energy for the races that I am attending.
I am back east now gearing up for what is left of the season. Up next on the agenda are Eastern Cup finals. Ironic, don’t you think? Hahah
P.S – I am working on writing something new that I feel strongly should have been brought to light long ago. Stay tuned for that.