MAST Update #11
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Dear MAST Athletes, Families, Coaches:
As you know by now, Governor Walz has issued Executive Order 20-99, which has imposed a stop to all in-person youth sports programming including alpine skiing through December 18. The order does encourage Minnesotans to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, but to do so only in small family groups. Ski areas remain open, but with strict restrictions on operating procedures.
I want to address a number of topics here:
1. I am postponing the Webinar that was planned for Sunday, November 22. With in-person practices delayed until at least December 19, we simply don’t have a clear idea of what our season will look like at this point. As soon as we know our in-person start date, we will reschedule the “Orientation to the 2020-21 Season” Webinar.
2. I have attached Executive Order 20-99 as well as some supporting documents that are referenced in 20-99. I also attached a pdf containing “relevant excerpts” from the order that pertain to outdoor recreation and our team.
The health situation we are facing is very serious. Our healthcare system is stretched to its limit and the Governor’s goal of significantly reducing the rate of spread is vitally important. To this end, the Governor is asking us to maintain a social distance of six feet even when we are outdoors. Although he encourages us to get outdoors, he also wants us to do so only with family members. Here is an excerpt from Par. 6.b: “Individuals must not engage in outdoor recreational activities where they will come into close proximity with others from different households.”
3. Hyland is slated to open on Saturday. At least that was the plan a couple of days ago. You have a season pass and you and your family have to decide whether you can ski safely and abide by the Governor’s guidance on outdoor recreation. To ski at Hyland without the supervision of the MAST coaching staff is to risk skiing in an uncontrolled environment. Here is where I see the risks:
Remember, we are told to enjoy the outdoors, but to do so in the close proximity of family members only. It will take some effort to honor this restriction at Hyland. As much fun as it is to ski with friends, I do not recommend it and it would violate the Governor’s Executive Order.
If you are going to ski, go when the area is less crowded. No teams are allowed to practice, and lessons are cancelled so these two developments should reduce the crowd size on the North Chair at least, maybe South as well. Saturday and Sunday mornings are often the least crowded times on the North Chair when teams are not practicing.
Use the chalet to warm up only. I don’t think they will allow any bag storage or even allow you to store your shoes in the chalet. I was told that Hyland will not be offering any food service per the Governor’s order.
Should you decide to ski, please do so safely. Wear a mask, even under your buff. Wash your hands whenever you can. Even carry hand sanitizer in your jacket just in case you need an emergency application. Keep your guard up; be aware of your safety at all times; strictly follow the Governor’s orders on engaging in safe outdoor recreation.
4. Our season is slated to open on November 30. There is a chance that this date could be pushed back into December or even January. But I doubt this will happen. Should the MSHSL retain Nov. 30th as our season start date, the coaches are preparing a plan to hold virtual practices.
There is a lot we can accomplish virtually. Ski racing is a complicated sport. It requires movements that are coordinated, somewhat unnatural, and precise. We use highly engineered equipment that allow us to make quick and extreme direction changes at very high rates of speed in all kinds of snow conditions. That is what makes the sport so fun. Through virtual meetings we can introduce and review the six fundamentals of proper ski technique, we can watch video and explain the drills we use to develop these fundamental skills, we can study the tactics of slalom racing and we can get to know one another as best we can via a screen. By doing so, we will be able to eliminate a lot of “talking time” once we do start skiing and instead just focus on skiing. The coaches are working on a virtual practice schedule. Look for details in the next MAST Update.
5. Should this “pause” to the start of the season change your thinking about getting involved with ski racing this year, the MAST Board of Directors is offering families an opportunity to withdraw from MAST. No Board member or coaches want anyone to withdraw, but we understand if the pause in our season has changed your thinking about diving into this sport at this time. MAST will refund your team fee and activity fee (if paid to MAST) in full less a 4% processing fee.
Hyland has agreed to refund your season pass fee as long as your season pass remains unused. If you purchased your season pass through MAST, Hyland will refund MAST and MAST will refund you. If you purchased the pass directly from Hyland, then Hyland will refund you directly. But you would need to return your pass to Hyland first and you cannot have used your pass to ski. At this point, the deadline for withdrawing and receiving a refund is November 30th. All you need to do is send an email to me or Jodi Mkaouri, the MAST Board President, notifying one or both of us of your desire to withdraw from the team and a request for a refund.
Whew. This is not easy for any of us. As one of our esteemed board members put it so well in our meeting last night, we are experiencing a shared trauma and we have a shared responsibility to see our way through it. Please be safe. Stay healthy. Embrace your family members. I believe that good can come from difficult times. We need to dig deep and draw out that good. This process begins by following the Governor’s orders, doing everything we can to stop the spread and keep our families, our neighbors, and our larger community healthy.
Please reach out if you have questions.
Best wishes always,