As a long time racer, organizer and a course designer I figured this would be a good time to share some of my thoughts with skimo race organizers on how you can easily improve your “customer” experience.
Skimo is still a niche sport but it will remain as such unless we up the ante. From what I am hearing or seeing we can learn a lot from other mountain sports about how to run things better.
In order of priority, here are 9 quick tips I hope you will find useful. And for some, I am talking from my own mistakes 😉
1. Release race entry fees and other info sooner
To illustrate, here is what a regular Colorado racer emailed me:
One flaw in the skimo racing scene is that registration information is not available far enough in advance. Trail racing in the summer is more organized in this regard. […] so that is an area the sport can focus on for improvement. It helps with planning and budgeting! – Jeremy
I believe he is not the only one with the same opinion.
2. Get Twitter or Facebook account if you don’t have a website
As a web designer and online marketing consultant, I know websites can be a pain to keep up to date unless you are tech savvy. No problem, just get either a Twitter or a Facebook account with your event’s name and you are online and connected.
Should you have problem about spreading the news that you now have an online presence just send me an email and I will do it for you.
3. Clearly communicate locations & times
Organizers seem to sometimes fail to make it easy to find key event’s locations and times. To say that start & finish will be located “to the right of Wild Bill’s Pub” might be enough for locals, but for those that spent $100 just to get there it would be useful to put up some posters or flags that navigate them to the right spot.
Locations and times for these are important:
- Race package pickup
- Pre-race meeting
- Start & finish area(s)
- Runs open for training/warming-up
4. DO NOT rely on local knowledge, mark the course well
Obviously, this is a no-brainer but it’s often taken too lightly. Again, here’s a quote from another Skintrack reader that illustrates this, and I myself have personally voiced to organizers many times over the years.
A pre-race meeting where you tell us to “make sure you turn left onto Hilda’s Headwall” and “loop around the avalauncher and then go up Thigh Burner under Chair 3″ is utterly useless to those racers who don’t live and breath your particular ski area. Also, make sure course marshals know the course and are alert to direct skiers to the right place. – Andy (regular Colorado racer)
5. Use standard colours for course markers/flags
A North American invention brought course marker colours skimo has never seen before. Long before ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) was established and brought standardization into racing, Europeans (the birth place of skimo racing) were using green flags for ascents and red flags for descents.
Because red can be easily seen at high speeds while fluorescent green is a good contrasting colour to the mostly white-blueish environment, and is different enough from red.
Lots of NA races use red for going up and blue for downhills. The “logical” reasoning for this has always absolutely amazed me – ” when you are going up you are hot and red symbolizes this; when you are going down you are cold hence the blue colour”.
When racer is skiing at 40 mph it’s bloody hard to see red, never mind blue!
6. Don’t have a choke place
You don’t want a race to be decided by designing a disadvantage situation on your course (say creating a line-up). It is critical to avoid having:
- boot-pack on a first climb (or at least the first 20-30 min)
- single skin-track on the first climb (or in first 15-20 min)
- highly technical skinning/climbing/skiing section early in the race
- very narrow place early in the race (only one ladder in Corbet’s Couloir in Jackson Hole works good enough cause it comes after 2h of racing)
- very small platform/space for transitions
7. Use danger/caution flags
These are not necessary for most races, most years. But there are times/places, such as rocky sections or unexpected turns, where a caution flag can be very useful.
When racer damages his/her skis or misses a turn they will not be a happy customer.
If you want to print the flag to the right download this PDF that I borrowed from ISMF – DANGER FLAG 40×60
8. Have warm tea or a drink in the finish area
This would be a nice but not a must item. Usually it’s not a problem to pay the ski area $50-70 for couple of gallons of fresh tea to be delivered to the finish area once the first racer comes in.
And here is a cool Italian twist that people will love you for! Instead of putting sugar in it, squeeze in some oranges (say 3-4 per gallon) and I guarantee you there will be people asking what kind of tea did you brew 😉
9. Put placing column in results
This is a minor yet a simple thing to fix. In recent years I have noticed numerous race results (even online) with no “place” column – either none at all or formatted to the very right. These are hard to read.
Also, racers really appreciate to find results online within a day of the race, if not the day of!
Need help? Free consultation call
For the love of this sport, I am going to offer you a one free 30 min consultation call, to anyone interested. To arrange please email me from this contact page.
Or you can ask in the comments below.
Thank you very much for reading,