Is it time to up the anti with regards to making alpine more inclusive?

Since Britain was afforded the pleasure of having its first Indoor slope at Tamworth in 1994, indoor facilities have been used as part of the pathway in developing British Ski racers. Dave Ryding, Britain’s most successful racer on the World Cup uses a variety of slopes to hone his technique in the off season. In the last few years, the indoor slopes around the UK, now numbering six with more being talked about, have hosted numerous indoor slalom races and series. With GB Snowsport looking to be a top five alpine nation by the year 2030, is it now time to be bold and make the races that happen indoors run to the same seeding system that determines the start list at British run races in the mountains of both Europe and Scotland?

There are cases for keeping both the existing British Indoor Seeding System (BISS) points and using the British Alpine Seeding System (BASS) points. Debate over length of slope, difference in the vertical drop are all factors that those against moving the indoor races to BASS points point to but these are not insurmountable problems. No two slopes in the mountains are exactly the same and there are enough clever people that can work out the numbers to equate Chill Factor, Braehead, Milton Keynes Xscape and Castleford so that they can be used alongside Landgraaf for races run under BASS points.

Landgraaf, opened in 2002, in Holland hosts a BASS race over the end of May bank Holiday. Racers, predominantly younger entry level racers but with some of all ages, came this year from across the UK. The start list had over 120 racers on it with only the lack of hotel rooms available on site curtailing the start list being larger. There is the demand for decent indoor races.

Landgraaf is a longer slope than what is available in the UK and this makes the computation in comparing slopes hard but it is a possible hurdle that can be overcome. Few slopes that are used in the alps are the same and when homologating the slopes for racing, the number of gates, length and vertical drop will all need to be taken into account.

By bringing BASS points to play in the UK Indoor slopes, this will certainly help a number of factors. It will open up qualifying for the British Championships to a greater number of people coming into the sport. The costs of attending races in Europe will be bypassed if a racer can achieve the qualifying criteria by racing at home in the UK.

While it cannot be guaranteed but if BASS points were on offer rather than IBARTS points this may help with encouraging more racers to attend the races. With increasing costs in running a race, more races means more income for the same outlay thus affecting the bottom line in hosting a race.

It may be that races that happen in the UK for BASS points are run over three runs to meet the required vertical drop. Giving racers more time on the slope will be popular. How the third run would be set is open to discussion. The snow quality of most of the Indoor venues is not great after racers have battered down the courses set twice but the deterioration is not that bad once the first thirty have been down. Would one of the courses be used again or would a new course need to be set? This would be open for discussion.

There is a school of thought that believes that an adder be applied for indoor races. This is what currently happens with the BASS races that take place in Landgraaf. While this has been reduced from 40 to 20 points for this season, it is still something that some people feel should be removed totally.

A further benefit for bringing the indoor races into line with the outdoor snow races would be that it would allow the clubs to do more camps in the UK. This brings more revenue to the slopes during the quiet summer months.

If the Indoor races were to go with BASS points this would also hopefully attract more of the leading Under 14 and Under 16 racers to race during the summer, thus raising the standard of the summer GBR Series.

Some coaches and administrators might argue that too much racing could be detrimental to the development of the athletes. Rest is an important element in the development of athletes but if athletes can utilise the indoor slopes to fine tune their technique, the odd race to keep them in race mode may also help. The too many races point could countered with a well thought out diary with all the stakeholders working together for the benefit of the sport rather than the hotch potch that currently is in operation.

It was noticeable at Landgraaf the growing number of racers that raced in race suits. You can normally count the number that race in suits in the UK on one hand so to see more using suits and getting used to how the body reacts, was a real positive. Time wise it makes precious little different over a short course but how the body moves is the key point here. improving the race mentality is so important. The kids would not think twice about racing in a race suit in the mountains so why do they shun them in the summer? The same with the use of goggles!

It is time for this point, the use of BASS points at indoor races to be discussed. Many coaches in Landgraaf raised eyebrows at the thought but once they thought about it, there was a lot of positive feedback. There are enough clever people involved in the sport to make it possible, the detractors need to be overcome

If GB Snowsports is to meet its ambitious target of being a top five alpine nation by 2030, innovative and exciting changes to the way the sport is marketed is vital to keep attracting more people to race.

In a perfect world it would be great to see GB Snowsports take control of the competitive side of alpine skiing leaving the Home Nations to concentrate on participation.
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