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Racer Etiquette 101: Shouldn’t we ALL be ambassadors for Cross Country Skiing?

Racing Tips

Mon, Feb  20, 2012 - By Pete Edwards

Experienced ski racers know the basic rules and expectations of passing other skiers in skate and classic races. Those that are new to racing, touring and kids in youth programs often don’t know or didn’t really understand the basics rules about skier etiquette when explained to them.

I Googled “Racer Etiquette” I found this by Jan Clark: “Follow these tips for an enjoyable ski and share the tracks with others. Being polite is infectious, so be sure to thank folks that are staying to the side or moving out of the way. Also, give way to others when necessary so everyone can have a fun trip. Just ski friendly.”

Not exactly what I was looking for, but I liked “share the tracks”, “being polite is infectious” and “just ski friendly”.

Also searched and read “There is no written law of race etiquette, but if you can refrain from being the jerk ……………….you will probably have a far more successful and enjoyable time.”

While volunteering with the North American VASA one of my favorite jobs is always helping with the junior VASA races. Kids are cool! I gained a ton of great stories over the 2012 VASA weekend while interacting with these potential life-time members of our Nordic culture.

During one of the youth races on Sunday my daughter Cassidy lead the kids on their 2km course while I brought up the rear as the sweeper. While skiing along with the trailing young athlete we had a good conversation going and we made sure to stay clear of any adult racers that were passing us as they entered into the finish lap area. I was pretty shocked when my young ski racer and I were screamed at and told to “get off the course” by one of the adult racers. There were two sets of classic tracks. The adult racers were really spread out and exclusively using the inside track. My young friend and I were skiing in the outside track and following all of the proper rules of ski racing etiquette. As the screamer passed I told her that the youth racers had every right to be in the tracks as she did. Her only comment was that she didn’t see his Bib # that was on the front of his jacket.

Here are some good reasons to NEVER talk or scream rudely at fellow racers or non-racers that may be out on the course:

  • They may actually be season pass holders and have every right to be out on the trail.
  • They may not have even known that there was a race still going on – most of the other racers had already finished.
  • Parts of the trail are on state land and recreational skiers are not banned from the trail.
  • Don’t discourage or rudely embarrass kids when they are xc skiing – we need to encourage not discourage. And if they are racing, what kind of a message does it send them if they get yelled and screamed at – especially when they didn’t do anything wrong? And if they did something wrong, I can guarantee it was an accident and not deserving of a barking, screaming fit.
  • Politely yelling “track” is the norm during a classic race. And if the skier in front of you doesn’t hear you it will always be more effective to quickly go around an individual that either doesn’t hear you or understand than having a cow and a screaming fit. Screaming and rudeness kinda wreck the whole silent sport thing for most of us. Screaming and rudeness totally wrecks it for me.

We all need to be positive ambassadors for the greatest sport on snow while training and racing. Keep it positive and enthusiastically let others know just how awesome cross country skiing is.