Already in action for the 2024 season, Alpine Ontario has implemented its new U16 start order method.  The method, described in detail below,  will use a randomization of all competitors, blocking them into groups that will be rotated through different segments of the start order throughout the season or race series.  This same start order method will be implemented for all OCUP U16 and U14 races, including OCUP Finals.  Note, that the decision to include OCUP finals was added to align with U16 Eastern Regionals (Eastern Canadian Championships) using this same format.

AOA will join Alberta Alpine, BC Alpine, and USSA Rocky Mountain Division in moving away from national points to determine first run start order, to using a form of randomization to determine first run start order. This new start order aims to build resiliency and community and help to improve athlete retention.

“It’s all about maintaining balance and snow contact when conditions get rough.” Says Pat Biggs, AOA Executive Director and former World Cup racer.  “We’ve got to remember that U16 is still relatively early in the ‘train-to-train’ learning phase within the greater context of our sport.  Allowing all kids to race on a smooth course is fun and builds engagement!  Having our lowest-pointed racers learn to race from the back develops strong character and skills that will set them up for future success in alpine skiing.  On many fronts, it’s moving us in the right direction as a development system“.

As coaches, clubs, and a province, it’s our duty to best prepare our kids for the next step in their athletic journey.  With this change, it’s our goal to develop versatile racers to ski well in less-than-ideal snow conditions and compete for podiums regardless of start position. This skill set will help build resiliency and prepare the athletes to transition into FIS racing after U16, where everyone starts at the back of the pack before earning their first FIS points.  As an added benefit to the rule change, coaches in Colorado have noticed a heightened emphasis from their athletes on making the most of their last runs during training; an added benefit to the rule change.

The rotating start groups give all athletes the same advantages and disadvantages.   Everybody gets a chance to start early, in the middle and late.  This approach to racing at U16 can help improve engagement for higher-pointed athletes who previously always started in the worst conditions.  Athletes with fewer participation opportunities or who are new to the sport don’t need to worry about their national point profile to be able to have their share of good start numbers.

We’re building community.  Random seeding contributes to a more cohesive group because of the mix of abilities at the start and finish. Athletes of all abilities have a better chance to create relationships simply because they are experiencing closer proximity to each other.  Regions that have already implemented have noted an increase in athletes, parents, and coaches staying to the last racer to cheer on and encourage all racers.

Here’s how the new start order will operate:

Group Draw, Block into Groups, and Rotate

Please note that this method differs from what was initially proposed by AOA in October.
The rules for AOA start order can be found in the Provincial Competition Rules (PCR) here

  1. The starting order of the competitors is determined by drawing all competitors and creating a base list before the first race of a race series.  Each series of races will have its own draw and base list created.  eg. Southern Ontario OCUP SL series (4 races).
  2. Depending on the number of race events in a series, the order will be divided into that number of groups, labeled A, B, C, D, etc. Each Group will be further divided into subgroups, referred to as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
  3. The group and subgroup for each race in a series will rotate such that the competitors will have the opportunity to start from all start segments of the field (ie. 1/4th, 2/4th, 3/4th, 4/4th).  Start numbers for each race will be assigned by this rotation method on the initial base list.  Rotation tables can be found in the Provincial Competition Rules (Page 4).  

Starting Order for the 2nd Run:
In competitions with two runs, the starting order for the second run is the reverse order of the 1st run start order, including competitors with a 1st run DSQ or DNF.