Thursday, September 10, 2020
Dear MAST Athletes, Parents and Coaches:
With school opening (albeit online) and cooler, rainy weather settling in this week, we pass two markers that signal a new ski season is just around the corner. This looooong email will hopefully answer a lot of the questions that are probably bubbling around in your head. Before you continue reading, however, I ask you to please follow the link below. I need EVERY athlete/family to supply me with the MPS assigned student email address, the one ending in @mpsedu.org. You will understand why I need this once your read the entire email. Thank you.
MAST Athlete MPS Student Email Contact Form
Now back to UPDATE #4.
I. WHAT will the 2020-21 ski season will look like for MAST coaches, athletes and parents?
The good news is that ski areas are planning to open. We remain hopeful that the school district and the MN State High School League will allow the season to take place. More good news: It does not appear that the Fall sports season has contributed to the spread of the virus. The bad news is that changes and restrictions have been and will be instituted that will impact how we gather, educate, train, race and celebrate this season.
A. Announced and Proposed Restrictions and Changes To The Alpine Season
Some ski areas have started to publish their plans for opening and I have had a few conversations with people in the industry. Some of the changes I have seen announced or discussed so far are:
Hyland is waiting as long as possible to announce any final decisions about any restrictions they will be imposing, other than abiding by current State mandates (such as limiting building occupancy to 50% of the published building occupancy level). I would anticipate that many of the changes listed above will be our reality at Hyland as well.
B. MAST Changes: Confirmed and Anticipated
These are the changes MAST has had to make thus far, as well as some that we need to be prepared to swallow down the road.
1. No Giants Ridge Camp
I am sorry to report that the Giants Ridge Camp is CANCELLED for the 2020-21 season.
Camp Chicagami is closed. I spoke with Randy and he does not see how he will be able to host teams for overnight lodging for the foreseeable future. I know that this is a treasured experience for so many of you, coaches included. Let’s hope we can return in 2021-22. I am so sorry. Even at my advanced age, I look forward to going to camp with you every year. I assure you that I am just as disappointed as any one of you might be. Chins up. We march forward. We can still have a great season on the hill.
2. Other Cancelled MAST Events
MAST Ice Cream Social, Hoigaards Tent Sale Fundraiser, Pierce OktoberFest Fundraiser, Parent Social. We are hoping to offer one or two new team fundraisers and working to preserve the Urban Ventures Coffee Sale Individual Fundraiser.
3. Pre-Season Meetings, Orientations and Training Moved Online
Webinar dates and topics are listed below and on our website.
4. Limited Field Sizes At Races
I anticipate that if we do have opportunities to compete against other teams this year that the field sizes will be limited: fewer teams and fewer racers entered. US Ski and Snowboard is limiting the number of competitors to 100 athletes for each race day and venue. The usual number: 300-400. We should expect that high school racing will also impose limitations on field size this year. This means that all invitationals will likely be cancelled and there is the possibility that the section champs and state meet will be cancelled as well.
5. Changes To Coach-Athlete Instruction and Feedback
We are likely to reduce our face-to-face, coach-athlete interactions, demonstrations, and on-hill feedback and instead utilize social media more to communicate our training plans, drills, observations and feedback. This means you will be asked to take more control of your learning on the hill: knowing which directed free skiing drills are assigned each night, understanding the training plan for the evening, and more aggressively utilizing Sprongo to analyze your skiing technique and tactics. We will continue to offer feedback, but we will have to do it differently. Maybe we will continue to use google-meets to hold video review and feedback sessions within training groups. Man, that is a good idea. Note to coaches.
6. Changes To Transportation For Races and Supplemental Training
We may not be able to pack onto a bus for supplemental training or even races this season. We may need to recruit parents to drive athlete “pods” to races and/or supplemental training, if we decide that we can offer these opportunities safely. More to come on this issue.
7. Limits To Athlete Numbers At Training Sessions
Hyland may ask us to limit the number of athletes at each practice this season. Or, we may need to do this on our own in order to maintain some semblance of social distancing at Hyland. As our returning athletes know, it can get very crowded at the top of a lane waiting for your turn in the course. We may be able to adapt by offering more practice times, but it might also mean that we will have designated practices for certain groups during the week. Everyone may not be able to train six days a week as we have in the past. Hopefully this won’t be the case, but it is a possibility.
I share these scenarios and changes with you to alert you to how this season might be different from last season. Before you purchase equipment or a season pass, you need to know just how impactful the changes could be. The coaches will be just as committed as ever to helping you improve and achieve your goals for the season. My hope is that your desire to ski and train will be just as strong as it has been in the past, maybe even stronger since we have been sheltered in place more or less for the last six months.
C. New Practice Commitment and Participation Policy
For these reasons, I am implementing a new practice commitment and participation policy defining coaches' expectations around attendance and commitment. If you can’t make this level of commitment this season, please don’t take up a roster spot. This may seem harsh, but we are a competitive, varsity and junior varsity, high school sports team, not a recreational ski club. Unlike other sports, we do not require our athletes to tryout. We take students of all ability levels. In return, we ask for a commitment to regular attendance, sustained hard work, and a desire to develop into an exceptional skier. Think of it this way. How long would you stay on the roster of the Southwest girls’ varsity soccer team or the Washburn boys’ basketball team if you skip 50% of the practices? Even 25% of practices. If you walked away during the middle of practice to eat an order of french fries? Not long. This year, if you need to fuel up during practice, then make a sandwich at home, stuff it in your jacket, and eat it on a chair ride.
What do I mean by attending practice on a regular basis? The coaches will expect:
The bottom line is that the coaches expect athletes to show up often and train hard for the full practice. No riding in the terrain park during practice. No hanging out in the chalet checking social media. Train and have fun doing it... regularly.
III. Pre-Season Events and Webinar Logistics
Live webinars will be hosted using Google Meets through Minneapolis Public Schools. In order to participate, every family will need to utilize the ATHLETE’S MPS email account. You will not be able to participate using a personal or work email address. I know that some athletes may not wish to share your login and password with your parents. Nonetheless, my expectation is that you will log in using your MPS address and participate in the webinars with your parents. I would ask that you set your parents up with access to your email so that they can participate. We will try to post recorded webinars to Sprongo or YouTube to access later if you cannot attend live.
Every MAST athlete/family must fill out this form that will collect the MPS email address of every new and returning athlete. ClickHERE to complete the form. The email address you submit on this form should end in @mpsedu.org.
An invitation, including the webinar’s Google Meet link, will be sent to each @mpsedu.org email address registered. . Please do NOT try to link to the webinar using a personal or work email address. This will only complicate and delay the webinar. See the Pre-Season Events page on the MAST website for more information.
IV. Webinar Dates: Mark Your Calendars
Additional Webinars will be offered in November and December on the following topics:
It is time to be looking for equipment. If you are a returning athlete, try on your boots. Make sure they still fit. If you need to replace or find equipment, you need to get started now. We have good information on our website about what equipment you need, where to find it, and how to size it. Here is a link: https://www.mplsalpineski.org/
A. Local Equipment Swaps
So far, I only know of two swaps being held this Fall. I do see anything posted about a swap at Afton this year. Here are the two that are announced to date.
September 25-27, 2020.
Buck Hill Tent Sale
Here is a link for more information about the Buck Hill Tent Sale.
October 23-25, 2020
Team Gilboa Equipment Swap
Here is a link for more information about the Team Gilboa Ski Swap.
B. MAST Equipment Swap
Saturday, October 10 (tentative)
If we are holding a swap, it will be on Saturday Oct 10. Stay tuned.
C. Buying New: Pierce Skate and Ski
If you are buying any NEW equipment this season, I highly recommend scheduling an appointment with Pierce Skate and Ski in Bloomington. I have great confidence in the staff to properly match and fit you in the equipment that will serve you best. Appointments are required for those needing to purchase skis or boots. Walk-ins are welcome for those shopping for clothing, helmets, goggles, protective gear or tuning supplies.
Pierce Skate and Ski offers something it calls Flex pricing which gives 25% to 40% discounts off of Suggested Retail pricing on select race products from Atomic, Fischer, Head, Lange, Leki, Marker, Nordica, Rossignol & Swix. You will have to ask in the store for details.
Pierce also offers a package price on the 2019-20 Fischer FIS SL (sizes 155, 158 & 165) with bindings, race prep & binding installation at $999.95. These are "new" in the sense of "never been sold or used". This has proven to be a solid option for many high school racers as it is in the "medium" flex category which enables skiers who may not be highly skilled racers to roll the ski on edge and get it to arc. While $999.95 is a lot of money, unfortunately in the world of ski racing it is considered "reasonable".
One request that comes from me and me alone: This year, if you do not intend to purchase new, I would ask that you not use Pierce for the sole purpose of sizing equipment to purchase somewhere else. In the past, Pierce has been very kind to help our families find the right boot size or ski model and length in order for them to find the “correct” size in something used at a ski swap or online at a cheaper price. With Covid and the need to maintain social distancing and limit customer traffic in the store, we should not use valuable appointment times unless we are at least open to buying new from Pierce. For those who haven’t been to Pierce before, an appointment can take one and a half to two hours easily. The staff puts a lot of time into matching each customer with the right equipment. Of course, you are under no obligation to buy if you do schedule an appointment, but if you have no intention of purchasing boots or skis, please refrain from making an appointment in the first place. Hope this request on my part makes sense. If you aren looking for used equipment and are uncertain about what equipment to buy, how to select the right brand, model and size, and how to properly fit boots, then you need to be sure to participate in MAST Webinar #1.
Finally, the season opens Monday, November 9. Be sure to get out four to five times a week to exercise if you are not in a Fall sport.
In the next update, look for information about...
Call or email if you have questions. And don’t forget that our website contains a lot of information about our team and ski racing in general. We are updating it multiple times a week now. So keep checking back. Take a deep dive: www.mplsalpineski.org.
Have a great week.