Athletes entering University have the option of continuing on racing in select Canadian Universities or American Universities on the NCAA circuit.
Athletes should check with each University to confirm if they offer an alpine ski racing program. These programs have previously had opportunities available. University of British Columbia (Vancouver), University of Ottawa, Carleton University (Ottawa) University of Calgary and Lakehead University (Thunder Bay).
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Program Overview
NCAA ski races are FIS races operating under the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) guidelines. The calibre of the field is extremely high with most athletes being competitive at the NorAm level and some being current or former National Team members. With such a high level of racing, it is important for athletes to recognize that College level skiing can offer a very attractive alternative to the athlete remaining competitive while at the same time earning an undergraduate degree. As one coach put it, “Athletes need to know that college skiing is by no means an end game and in no way precludes the option of racing for a national team following graduation.”
The most competitive ski racing occurs between colleges that are members of the NCAA and who choose to race against other NCAA-affiliated schools. The NCAA is made up of three membership classifications that are known as Divisions I, II and III. Each division creates its own rules governing personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility, benefits, financial aid, and playing and practice seasons – consistent with the overall governing principles of the Association. Each College Athletic Department must affiliate its core program with one of the three divisions. Division I schools may offer athletic scholarships, Division II is intermediate, while Division III is a non-scholarship level. Skiing is “divisionally blind” as all NCAA classification compete together towards the same championship. So while the colleges may be at different NCAA levels, this has no impact on ski racing in which Level I NCAA schools compete equally with NCAA Level II and III schools.
NCAA races are organized into two regions. The Eastern region is known as the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) and the Western region is Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA). Alongside Alpine races are Nordic races, also run under the umbrella of the EISA or RMISA. The EISA annually hosts six Winter Carnival competitions starting in mid-January while the RMISA hosts five. Regional Championships are then held which lead to the National NCAA championships.
Colleges are restricted in the number of athletes they can bring to NCAA races. Only six men and six women are allowed to “score” (although a team may race perhaps as many as ten athletes per gender) and these must be the same for both slalom and GS.
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