One of the most common questions I get asked and what prompted me to come up with a FAQ series is what is the next step or the path forward for my skiing career. However, to understand this we need to take a little look at the breakdown of levels of racing and where I have previously raced. For levels, I think the six categories below make sense:
- Regional racing (FIS races, Besh Cups, college races, etc.)
- Domestic continental cup (supertours) and US nationals
- International continental cup (Scando and OPA cup),
- World Cup
- World Championships
As for where I have been, each year I seem to be making a step up the levels. Two years ago , I spent 5 weeks traversing central Europe following the OPA cup which is the second tier racing for Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy primarily but allows guests like the US. Last year, I left for Europe in January for my first world cups. For cross country skiing, the world cup is the season long set of races that represents the global top tier. Start rights are controlled by quotas, rankings, and the national governing bodies. Last season I raced across the Czech Republic and most of the nordic nations with some almost successes. I was 32nd (30th would be considered a success and grants one world cup points) in the Homenkollen 50k which is considered one of the most difficult and prestigious world cup races.
Naturally the next step will be World Championships followed by the Olympics. World Championships occur on odd years. This year’s races will take place in Lahti, Finland. Qualification starts in late November and goes through US nationals in early January. This coming season’s world championships will test the criteria for the Olympics. Although there are many small details, in the end the criteria is designed to pick the 6-7 skiers with the greatest medal potential. Why this gets interesting is that there are also 6 events at world championships. Selecting the ideal athletes for all these events has proven difficult and given selection a very political reputation. The 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang will follow with selection based on races between March, 2017 and February, 2018.
For all of these racing levels, experiencing the races is one thing, but success is another. As I see it, I am a successful domestic racer and have had moderate success on the international level on the continental cup or world cup. However, my path forward means changing these moderate successes into points (top 30) and even higher results. Among other things, this would help me achieve a US ski team nomination. In the end everything comes down to racing faster than I have before, meeting the necessary qualification criteria, and enjoying the journey forward.