The Best Seat in the House 2.0

By: Jean Allen (originally written in 2009) edited by Dave Campbell 2020

On February 8th at Craigleith we hosted the 2020 Raymond James Women’s Nor-Am Dual SL event. This marks over 35 years for Jean Allen being involved in running ski races at Craigleith.  It started as a great way to get skiing privileges at a private club as a member of Craigleith race crew.  Later, once she had kids in racing, she became a team manager for Nancy Green and Mackenzie teams (which is a great way to get involved and help support your children and the sport). As her children got older her involvement in the sport also evolved to higher levels of racing until she became the Chair of the Race Organizing Committee (ROC) for FIS and NORAM races held at Craigleith.  She also went on to take her Officials levels and has a Level 3 National TD designation.

One of the biggest challenges in running a race at the higher levels is finding enough people to volunteer to work on the hill.  It takes about 75 people to run a good quality slalom race.  The jobs vary from gatekeepers to working on crew fixing gates and keeping the course in good condition, side-slipping, timing team plus the officials.  A quote from Jean; “I have has always thought that if you have a kid in the race you should be prepared to help run the race on the hill.  The Lake Louise NORAM downhill is run for the most part by parent volunteers.  We really need your help at these races.”

Some more words from Jean: So, what do you, as a parent, get out of volunteering?  “You get the best seat in the house!”  It’s amazing to watch the kids right there on the side of the course.  They are fantastic athletes and you get a real appreciation for what it takes to succeed at this sport.  Many people tell me they are nervous about helping out in case they mess up a call on a gate, or fall in the course while side slipping.  No worries, there are always lots of people to help you and the organizers will always teach you what to do.  If you are not a strong skier there are still lots of jobs you can do.  There is a great camaraderie amongst the volunteers and we all work as a team to put the race together.

As you get more involved in the sport you should consider taking officials courses.  This may sound intimidating but it is an excellent way to learn and understand the rules of the sport and the points system.

Alpine Ontario runs several Level 1, 2 and 3 Official’s courses in the fall that are listed on the events calendar www.alpineontario.ca/calendar.  You will learn many things such as why the top point holders should finish in the top 10 or what the “c” value is.  It all helps to connect with your teenage athlete, especially when they are going through a slump.

The bottom line is that without parent volunteers ski races will not happen.  We really need the next generation of parents to step up to the plate and get involved in running races.  Over the years I have had a lot of fun and met lots of great people from across Canada and the US.

To help improve your child’s racing experience this winter get involved by volunteering and creating the best possible atmosphere for your child’s season. Let’s come together to make this winter the best season ever! If you are interested please email your Club’s RA or Alpine Ontario to find out more and how you can get involved. ~~ Jean