Where you should put your skiers – A, B, C, D, Open teams (personal opinion)
A new coach with a small team recently asked me for advice on how he should seed his skiers. Anchorage coaches with large teams frequently start at the top and put the maximum 7 skiers on each team until they run out. But coaches with smaller teams often space them out so that beginning skiers do not compete directly with the ‘big guns’. I typed up this response to send to him:
So the A, B, C, D, E… teams are actually how ‘most’ races are done in Anchorage (and have been for years).
In these ‘normal’ races, results are calculated and reported for each team level, so that you have ‘winners’ of the B team race, the C team, etc. Results are calculated from the top 4 times for each school in each team. So if a school enters fewer than 4 for a given level, no team time is reported. If they have more than 4 skiers, the extra skiers ‘don’t count’. Schools can enter a maximum of 7 skiers per team. Historically, schools would enter 5 skiers per level, so that they had one ‘spare’ in case someone had a bad race. In recent years, the big teams have gone with filling all 7 slots, as far down as the skiers go. Smaller teams space their skiers out to get them at the appropriate level, even if it means fewer than 4 skiers per team.
Most races have an Open class that usually skis a shorter distance and is for skiers that are pretty low-key. For the Open class, you are not limited to 7 skiers, but can enter as many as you want.
I think of the levels as follows:
- A – the big guns. In Anchorage races, these are pretty serious racers. While skiers are actually pretty polite, a slower skier might feel ‘in-the-way’ as these blow past them.
- B – In Anchorage races, this is still pretty competitive. Many of the skiers here are people who really would like to be on the A team and are going as fast as they can to prove themselves.
- C – Most C team skiers have some experience, but are not ‘particularly good nor fast’. Some of the big schools have pretty good skiers at this level, but they certainly know that they are going to have to interact with slower skiers. Some of the small Anchorage schools will put a few skiers on the A team and then skip the B team, putting their others on the C team (and maybe a few on D or Open).
- D – While big schools may have experienced skiers here, I think of it as more the level for skiers who have moved up from the Open class and are ready to try skiing the ‘full distance’ but might still be pretty much beginners.
- Open – those who aren’t ready to do the full distance. If someone is struggling at skiing, it’s not fun to be coming in 30 minutes after everyone else…
So I’d put my skiers into these 5 groups, spacing them out as it seems appropriate. Your best skiers probably know how they stack up – but I would encourage your best to ski the A team regardless.
Questions? Comments? You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (this my posted address for all the spam-bots to find. I will see your message – but you could put ‘pete’ in for ‘tryonj’ if you wanted to…)