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Safety questions Class C at Fort Kent- risking the kids?
Date: Oct 4, 2009 4:45:25 AM PDT
Author: PowMow

I'm curious if Lonesome Pines has been through any homologation process for the slope that is intended for the class C GS. Interesting points:

-We hear alternatively that the slope planned is a new one and conversely the same they have always used. Which is it?

-LP advertises 500' vertical yet online mapping shows 400'

-NO other area in Maine of this small nature ATTEMPTS a High School GS. From even Lonesome Pines has only held 1 GS in the past several years. Was this held simply to justify appropriateness?

-USSA specifies 250m minimum length for GS. LP offers LESS THAN HALF of that at 122.

-Does the trail offer the minimum safe width specified for USSA homologation?

-Is it appropriate to hold a championship GS race on a course that is a fraction of the length and pitch of regular season races?

-If the slope is 11% average does that mean we're going to have a 12 gate state championship GS?

-Does LP own adequate B-netting to protect the racers?

-We understand that LP was debarred from bidding in the past due to safety concerns. What has changed? If there HAVE been substantial changes, who has reevaluated the venue? Has there been an inspection by ANYONE and if so, what are their qualifications?

-GS races are MUCH different than they were even 5 years ago due to equipment development. Since the last time LP hosted there have been 5 or more spec changes made by USSA for GS skis for safety reasons.

-How many members of the ski committee are from the County? Are decisions being made to benefit that area at the expense of the previously-published fair travel schedule, appropriateness of venue and safety?


good kick
Date: Oct 20, 2009 1:18:18 PM PDT
Author: good kick

I agree safety is critical in awarding race sites for State Meets. If a site can't meet either our rules or generally accepted USSA/FIS rules then that's a serious issue. LP does meet our rules for course length. Read the rulebook. It's unclear at present if they meet USSA/FIS width standards, which appear to be 40m in width. We don't specify width, we have just trusted sites to follow generally accepted practices, but I seriously doubt if any site has always had all the safety fencing a truly homologated site would have to provide. Number of gates is based on 15% of vertical drop, so that's not an issue, by our rules, which we have to go by if they're different than USSA/FIS standards.
As far as the info not being posted until months after the decision was made the fact is it was posted on 7/11/09 on the website, quite close to the actual decision date.
This is surely not a good position for anyone involved. The fact is we got spoiled at Sunday River for so long, and they need to make money. They weren't interested when they sent back their reply. You have to respect the bid process like all public organizations must do. Private entities like NENSA can do as they please. We also need to realize we are guests who the sites spend a lot of manpower and money on to host our races. I'm not sure why they do it at all: February vacation is when they make some serious coin from people who actually PAY to ski there, and we take over the entire lodge and the primo snow, which doesn't go over well with people who actually pay to ski there. Not everyone loves racers and all that we bring to the mountains. I seriously doubt if NH would want to take on our races during one of their busiest times neither. I don't believe any other state has their State Meet during Feb. vacation for the above negatives involved with our races.
Presently there are no Class "A" schools from the County. Consider the fact that a school can petition up at any time, and even I have considered doing that just to save money. Skiing does not follow most other sports where "A" is usually much stronger than the other classes: just look at the Maine Teams we send out of state to compete to gauge the level of competition. If 4-5 schools applied up to "A" in an attempt to save money the meet would be huge! Don't think schools won't try it in these tight times.
Also, when I go to States I go to compete against the entire state. I don't care if there are any local schools there or not. I want a safe competition so my kids can do their best, and I want a quality meet that allows them a great experience. It's a shame for a kid from Maine to never ski at a World Class facility like the County offers at two sites. Kids from Vermont drive 8-10 hours to race there just to get the experience. Our kids should get that chance too. For most it's the only time they get to see the County.
Consider also what would happen to the bid process if it's thrown out this year. If I was a race site why would I either respond with an inexpensive bid or respond at all if I thought I could just hang back and get a second chance at a more expensive race? Awarding bids is the way most public organizations manage expenses, and you have to respect the process or people won't play nice. That's not in our kid's best interests.
Not the best position to be in by any measure, but it's what we face. I would like the MPA to give a serious look at moving at least one class out of vacation (rotate it) in an attempt to respond to the lack of interest in meets during vacation. Sure seat time is an issue, but what really is going on the last two days before Feb. vacation? Let's be kind and just say it's not your most productive instructional time, as many are going to Florida or out west to ski. These kids are generally great students who miss school for less valid reasons than a State Meet. Time management is something they need to learn if they are going to college.



Hiding behind the rulebook and the poor effort
Date: Oct 20, 2009 5:38:51 PM PDT
Author: PowMow

"Good Kick" could have called himself "Bode Miller" and it would still not have taken long to determine his goals. He takes odd snapshots of the concerns of Alpiners in this poor situation and dubs us either whiners or naysayers. Lets hit safety first:

Kick states that "40 meters appears to be minimum USSA required width." Does he think that 2 lifties and a tape measure is the "homologation process?" USSA's process is not nearly so simple and neither should be ours. The POINT is that we challenge the idea that ANYONE who is qualified to do so has looked at the slope and said that b-netting must go near THOSE rocks, the finish area must be X meters in diameter and set up no closer than 100 meters from the lift, no gates should be set in the double fall line area, etc., etc.,

Now, the announcement timing: One can only presume that though the announcement was made on a date "very close" to 7/11, classes B&A for the next 2 years were "secrets" until the NEXT month.

The "Fair bid process": Wow, Kick's explanation of the reason for a fair bid process could hardly be more condescending. Let me add a few things about such processes I've had experience with. In the business world I live in any important fact of the bid need is called a "bid spec". The 2004 MPA "fair travel" schedule would seem to qualify as such a "bid spec." Further, in any bid process the disclaimer that "any and all bids may be rejected" usually appears so if, for example, the important schedule "bid spec" was somehow forgotten the bid solicitor could exercise this clause and negotiate with a/some bidder(s) for a solution.

Lastly, nothing could be more telling than your commentary about Vermont kids being thrilled to visit the County world-class venue. World Class? We in class C would be happy with a finals venue that is not half the vertical and pitch of ANY other GS ever run in the state; and we get to travel to it 8 hours AWAY waving at a dozen great GS hills along the way.
Last modified by PowMow on Oct 20 2009 5:47PM


Ski Fan
Date: Oct 20, 2009 6:46:16 PM PDT
Author: Ski Fan

Good Kick appears not to notice that it's the ALPINE venue that presents the safety concerns with Class C States. I don't know of any high school ALPINE racers who have travelled to Lonesome Pines to gain the experience.
There is no question that the nordic facilities in the county are top notch and that they do a fabulous job hosting events.
The questions and the issues at hand are with the ALPINE venue.
Kick says he wants a safe venue so his kids can do their best. Most of us want that for all kids, nordic and ALPINE. It's clear that the athletes that Kick cares about are neither ALPINE nor MEISTERS.
Coaches and parents deserve to know that Lonesome Pines has been properly homolugated and safety concerns have been addressed. If this was done, those involved should have no problem sharing the names and credentials of those who did this evaluation. Not sharing this information confirms that this has not been done.
The solution is quite simple. Share the facts or find a venue that is safe for ALL racers.


good kick
Hiding behind the rulebook and the poor effort
Date: Oct 21, 2009 12:04:09 PM PDT
Author: good kick

A good question about homologation: homologated by
whom, and to what level? There are different standards for
different level races in the homologation process, and they
do all primarily deal with safety, which is the bottom level
for me. Even if a trail is homologated it doesn't always mean
it's a great race trail, just that it meets certain safety
standards. It's unclear to me if every trail we have ever raced
alpine on has always been homologated: I do know State
Meets have been held on non-homologated courses in the
quite recent past, including LP. I do think they should be (to
what level? FIS World Cup? ) and i know first hand it's a
lengthy process involving a lot of surveying, GPS work,
consultants, a site visit by the sanctioning body,
development of a plan, etc. I do find it curious that the
homologation issue was never raised at this (or any other
venue) in the past, in spite of many races being held there.
Just a coincidence I guess. I think we should have safe trails,
and would like to think that this issue will be examined in
the future. I also find it unbelievable that a homologated
course like SR could allow for the general public to ever
cross the trail during a race. Talk about safety issues!
Yikes!!! I'd worry more about that than a shorter course any
The decision of future rotations I understand hasn't been
carved in stone. The info posted on 7/11 did have the sites
for all the classes this year. All three class sites for this year
were posted on the same date, not later as implied.
All in all an interesting debate, which I hope will make it
better for ALL our athletes. That's what I want! Now if we can
just get the idea of having State Meets some other time than
February Vacation we might not have to wave at other good
hills as we drive along. The sad fact of the matter was that
they didn't want to play with us this year, and I think we
need to look at the real reasons why: we don't do much for
their business and they're in business to make money, not
host meets that lose money for them. I think we're in a
tough situation and it will be interesting how this all plays
out. I love (and competed in) all forms of snow sports,
except jumping. I may be crazy but I'm not whacko! We all
want the best for all of our kids.
The former rotation was based on when we had a lot of
sites who wanted to host. We no longer are in that situation.
I would be surprised if we don't see even less sites who want
us during this busy week. It also wasn't fair to ask the
northern schools to come south virtually every year, and for
a Northern kid to ski his or her entire HS career and never
compete on a "home" mountain like the southern kids all do.
Look at the big perspective and you see it's not just limited
to your own kids. Moving things around is good for
everyone. There is no easy solution to this issue. Things are
changing and we have to either adapt or fall by the wayside.
How about having the alpine at Big Rock? A little tough for
getting the Meisters there, who I have tremendous respect
for, but is it really much further from LP to PI than it is from
MT Abram to Black? I bet we could figure out start times to
make it work. It's got plenty of hill for sure. They could use
even more than they do and have an even better race!



Ski Fan
Date: Oct 21, 2009 5:51:06 PM PDT
Author: Ski Fan

Kick, your lengthy response still fails to answer the question about the safety concerns with Lonesome Pines. If you know the answer, provide it. If not, continue with your lengthy responses that avoid the question. As far as adapting to change, you may want to heed your own advice. Everyone at the coaches meeting last Sunday knows that there is a proposed alternative that has been agreed to by the resorts involved. That alternative does not require any lost days from school and respects the travel schedule set up by the MPA for the next few years. The resorts involved also have a long history of safely hosting both FIS and USSA races over the years. If you are in a position to influence the ski committee, you owe it to our atheletes and their families to support the coaches proposal and make it happen.


Date: Oct 23, 2009 6:45:12 AM PDT
Author: SkiParent

I’ve been reading this forum for a while now trying to understand what the real issue is. LP
has been hosting races for decades, if safety was ever an issue I would think that by now any issue would have been resolved. As you stated, safety is priority number one for the coaches, parents, administrators and racers. If LP was a dangerous venue do you think the parents, administrators and coaches from Fort Kent, Madawaska, Presque Isle, Caribou and Mars Hill would allow the kids to race at this hill? Or do you think that adults in The County have less regard for their kids safety then the adults in the southern part of the state? I find this rather insulting and I live in Southern Maine. You talk about the need for homologation, which is a great idea if resort had the money, but I wonder if we only raced at homologated sites how many places we could actually race. How about Herman Mountain, Camden Snow Bowl, Titcomb, Lost Valley and Kents Hill? They’ve held races during the season. Have they gone through the process? They seem to run races without issue. If safety is still a concern and you need to talk to someone who is familiar with LP. How about calling the Principal of Fort Kent High School and member of the MPA Skiing Committee. I’m sure Mr. Doak could address your concerns.
Granted LP is small hill with not much vert but it can still run 40 to 50 sec GS. If small hills are excluded from racing because of vert what would happen to resort like Buck Hill, Minnesota, Believe it or not their vert is less then LP. They seem to produce racers of national caliber with the “vert” that they ski on.
Kick brings up good points of the major southern resorts not wanting to hold these huge races during their busiest time of the year. The kids, coaches and parents take up more space with little or no regard for the general public (the paying customer). The teams and their entourages walk in to the lodges like the own the place. Causing the paying customer to move into corners and fighting to find table space for their families. Think about these people who pay full boat prices only to be squeezed out by our teams. I’ve seen this happen the last couple of years at Black and SR. Look at Shawnee Peak, they hold multiply races thru out the winter but won’t touch the States because it falls during their busiest (i.e. most important time of the year). It was stated, “we get to travel to it 8 hours AWAY waving at a dozen great GS hills along the way.” I think that this holds the key to the “whining” that is being demonstrated on the forum. First of all most of those dozen resort are waving back because they don’t want us there during this week. But most reveling is the “8 Hours of travel” part of that statement, suck it up. Is it fair that The County schools get to “wave” at these resorts on their 8 Hours of travel every year? These kids should have the opportunity to race in State Meets on their home hills as much as the southern kids.


SkiParent- please be more familiar before calling names
Date: Oct 28, 2009 12:26:26 PM PDT
Author: PowMow

Skiparent, even just looking back through this issue on this forum only you may well have answered your own questions and debunked your own points. Let me help with a few:

The areas you discussed do not attempt HS GS races with the exception of the Snow Bowl- which IS homologated. That is in fact, the very point.

LP has held ONE, count 'em one GS since they've joined LiveTiming. A cynic might say it was held for the very purpose of justifying a State Race bid.

In 2004 the MPA published a fair state race travel schedule arrived at by identifying a ratio of the number of skiing schools north and the number south. For C that was identified as a 6 year interval, and for B, 7.

The MVC coaches organization, within less than 2 weeks of first looking into it this summer, found willing (and appropriately homologated) venues for all events.

Safety, Skiparent, IS the issue. NOBODY with any experience to tell us so can say that the venue is safe or unsafe for a GS because nobody who is qualified to do that has ever looked at LP. This should be the lowest level of expectation and indeed should be a bid spec. If you're a coach and not worried, shame on you. If you're a parent and blissfully unaware, visit and catch up. This is the most serious issue I, with 10 years coaching experience, have ever seen in MPA skiing. Be aware and you may well share my concern.
Last modified by PowMow on Oct 28 2009 12:47PM


Date: Nov 17, 2009 12:26:14 PM PST
Author: SkiParent

At first I wasn’t going to respond to Pow Mow comments but I needed to get a few thing out. Sorry if you thought I was calling you names, that wasn’t my intention. The whining comment was just an observation from all the previous postings. Using safety as a reason not to go to LP is ridiculous. LP has a long history of holding ski races, their ski committee is on par with any in the State. Just because they haven’t been on Live_Timing doesn’t mean they’re new to ski racing. By the way what does Live_Timing have to do with this discussion? It sure looks like someone is being a cynic. Sorry no name calling. Safety is the priority but skiing is a dangerous sport, accidents do and always will occur. Homologating racecourses is one way to minimize the danger, but homologation isn't going to guarantee safety. Ms Brush’s accident, which is an unfortunate example of the dangers of ski racing, occurred on a homologated slope. You need to do a little more research on which slopes have been certified. Homologation of a ski area is done on an event basis, certain areas are allowed to run DH, SG, GS or SL. I’m sure this doesn’t have to be explained any further. What you may find interesting is Mt Abram is only certified to hold a SL, Shawnee Peak’s Main Slope is certified for GS and their East Slope is certified for SL. But as you know GS races are held at Mt Abram and on Shawnee’s East Slope and SL races are held on Shawnee’s Main Slope. So if we follow your rational, these venues, which haven’t been homologated for those events, shouldn’t hold races for safety reasons. Of course if it was suggested that these ski areas weren’t capable of holding these races because of safety I wonder how you would be received. Also The Snow Bowl isn’t certified according to USSA and by the look of their history they haven’t for the last 10 years. Please keep in mind that ski races are only as safe as the people you run them. When care is taken for the safety of the racers, whether the venue has been certified or not, risk will be greatly reduced but never eliminated. This is the nature of ski racing. Ms Brush’s accident was an anomaly. These types of accidents are extremely rare but do occur. Injures to racers are more likely to happen because of loose snow, catching a tip or edge, unprepared racers, getting hit be inattentive skiers while free skiing and maybe that run thru the terrain park just to get some air before the 2nd run. These happen whether the venue has been certified or not. Being that you have been a coach for 10 years you may have this figured out or not. So really, come clean as to WHY you really don’t want to go to LP. DO TELL!


Date: Nov 18, 2009 9:55:27 AM PST
Author: Chandy

I have been a coach for 10 years as well. Im certain that LP will take the utmost care to ensure that our athletes and children remain as safe as possible. The MPA will be there to double check the hill and the race arena prior to the start and all the coaches will have input on any issues they have prior to the start of the day. The venue is not my issue. Im very comfortable saying that I don't want to go because it is so far away- about 6 hours. That said, my school is the furthest school south in the state, so Even Mt. Abram is a haul for us. Im comfortable with a 2-3 hour drive as long as we have a place to keep my small army of kids, parents, and their 2 pairs of skis, gear for 3 days, food, etc. From what I understand, the Fort Kent area does not offer a lot in the way of lodging (but truth told, I have never been that far north). I believe that all of the class A schools exist pretty much central or south of the state. So in this case, we all have to travel a great distance. I wonder if we have worn out our welcome at the areas that are more central, or if the folks in Fort Kent have just been over looked during the bid awards.

Despite of all of what I just said, I understand that not a lot of southern "resorts" want us there on vacation week. If you can't see how we are more a burden than a benefit to those areas, pay close attention to what happens in the lodge at Mt. A this year...

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