Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to all you SPACers!

I hope you had an amazing day of thanks. I’m sure skiing and snow were high on the list for all of you – They certainly were for me. Just a quick reminder that if you haven’t registered yet, please do so by 12/1 before the late penalty kicks in.

I wanted to take a minute to give all of you a short recap on the parent meeting. It was great to see many of you out despite a blustery day with many power outages. The meeting covered the following topics:



We kicked off the meeting with a welcome to the new SPAC families. We are so excited to have you all join our fun community. For new families or perhaps returning families transitioning to the competitive program for the first year, if you are interested in having a mentor family assigned to you please let me know. I will be sending out an email regarding that soon. A quick list of things to know for our brand new families –

  • On snow training starts 12/12. Kids need to be at the SPAC shack (just past the big chief chair) at 8:45am. Most families choose to get ready in the upstairs of Pacific Crest Lodge. Lunch is from 11-12 – new families should plan to meet there kids at the SPAC shack at 11. Program ends for Mighty Mites at 2 and for Juniors at 3.
  • Kids under 10 do not need race specific skis or gear. Helmets are required for all athletes. SPAC jackets are ordered in the spring, so most new families will not have uniforms. Returning families interested in selling jackets should post them on marketplace. Shin guards and face guards are required for u14 and up; u12 athletes typically use guards as well. Check with coaches after the first day of training as to what your athlete needs.
  • u8-u14 (the “U” just stands for under) will free ski and do technique drills before lunch and will train on gates in the afternoon. Juniors will gate train in the morning and afternoon with free skiing/drills in the middle of the day. Note these are typical schedules. Group ability levels, and snow conditions may alter what happens on a given day. If you have questions ask your athlete’s coach for the day. Parent’s can check in with coaches at 2pm pick up at the SPAC Shack.
  • A meet the coaches/new parent meeting will occur the second weekend of practice after training concludes. More info to follow.
  • SPAC is a 501c3 run with a Volunteer Board. Tuition pays for coaches salaries only. All other funds necessary to run the program are raised through race, revenue, sponsorship and donations. Kurt Westmann, Vice President of the Board and Fundraising Chair will be sending more information in the future.
  • All of our races are run by volunteers. Volunteering for home races is mandatory for all competitive families. Intro families are encouraged to volunteer. It’s a great way to learn more about racing and to meet other families. Jakub Oleksy, SPAC board member and volunteer coordinator will send out more information on how to sign up to Volunteer and on Volunteer training.
  • All families must sign their kids up for which trainings they plan to attend on SMARTSHEET. You should receive an invitation to join Smartsheet in the near future if you haven’t already. For more information on Smartsheet and how to use it see last years post. If you’d like more specific training or assistance with Smartsheet, let Dave or Kate know and we will arrange it.



USSA has established a Regional U14 Project this year. A Western Region U14 Race will be held in Jackson Hole on 3/10-13.  Qualifying athletes from each division- about 15 u14 boys and 15 u14girls from PNSA will have an opportunity to race against the best u14 athletes in the Western US. Our division, PNSA (Pacific Northwest Ski Association) is divided into 3 zones. Each zone will have 5 boys and 5 girls to qualify. The qualifying races include Webb Moffet, Hampton Cup, Cherry Tree Charge. Not all U14s will opt into qualifying races. Dave will work with athletes during goal setting sessions to determine who will participate in the qualifying races from SPAC.  Athletes who qualify will be part of a PNSA team not just a SPAC team. Coaches from the  PNSA team will be selected from all of the clubs. If you have questions about this new project and how it will affect your athlete, please check in with Dave.


Junior Level Category System

(warning younger families, this might be confusing if you don’t know about USSA points yet… never fear… you don’t need to know about it yet. If you are interested in learning more see USSA points page or get the download from an older family)

PNSA and ROCKY MOUNTAIN regions are participating in a trial for changing racing from age based to ability level racing. PNSA is doing a trial with Junior level athletes.  Rocky Mountain is doing a trial with Mighty Mites. This year athletes will be split into 5 ability categories based on their USSA points. Podium results will be awarded by category rather than by age level. Category 1 will be top 10% of Athletes; category 2 11-30%; category 3 31-60%; category 4 60-100%; category 5 athletes who have never raced in points level races. Athletes will be placed in a category to start based on their best points in either discipline (Slalom or Giant Slalom). So if an athlete has lower (better) points in GS than SL the category placement will be based on their GS scores. The category defining point level cut offs will be established after the second reporting cycle (early in the season) and will be fixed for the season. Through out the season athletes can move between categories in two ways:

1. Lower your points below a cut off
2. Category finish results. – Every time you place in top 15. You get between 25(for first place) and 1(for 15th place) category points. Once athletes category points add up to a hundred, they move up a level regardless of their points total.

Evergreen and Northwest Cup will be run with new categories. Seeding is a random draw within a category. This trial program is designed to let more kids get recognition, and to establish goals for athletes other than just winning. SPAC is very excited about this new approach and the opportunity it gives us to tie athletes performance and ranking to effort and individual growth. If you have questions about how this new trial might impact your athlete please contact Dave.


fostering grit and a growth mindset in our athletes

We at SPAC are very fortunate to have an extremely well qualified coaching staff. All of our coaches are level 3 ski instructors along with being former racers and race coaches. Our staff is very committed to developing coaching techniques that foster the whole athlete, and that develop not only a competitive racer but a successful individual, athlete, and skier for life. At the forefront of this effort is Linda Cowan, SPAC’s Director of Training. In addition to being a phenomenal racing coach, Linda is an instructional coach for the Northshore School district. She is a teacher of teachers. This year Linda shared some of her wisdom on how to foster grit and growth in our athletes.

Did you know that by telling your child that she is a great skiier or that she’s really fast could actually be limiting her potential? Studies have shown that telling kids that they are “good” at something makes them try to stay at the level of success they are achieving at that time. They tend to take fewer risks, focus less on growth and may actually not try as hard to improve.

We know intuitively that to be successful at something, individuals must be determined, willing to try new things and take risks, and most importantly willing to stay focused and push themselves to put in their maximum effort even when things are hard or scary. Linda’s presentation focused on how we can help our athletes (and ourselves ) maintain a growth mindset (a belief that everyone can improve, grow and be successful) over a fixed mindset (a belief that only the “talented” people will be successful; and that somethings are just fixed and can’t be changed).

For some of us Linda’s words may be brand new, for others it’s part of an ongoing approach. The basic idea is that we want to encourage our athletes by focusing on their effort. Talk to athletes about how hard they are working at something; reward them for staying focused and aware not just for winning. If we tell our athletes they are hard workers – they will tackle the next challenge by working harder, as opposed to just giving up or not trying as hard because maybe they just aren’t “good enough” this time.

This post will be followed up with another post focusing specifically on techniques for handling different situations with your athletes. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to check out Linda’s full powerpoint presentation (note presentation has been printed as a pdf due to large file size. To see videos, you will need to browse to video urls. Sorry for the inconvenience.).

Thanks for your time and attention and for bringing all of your amazing kids to the SPAC community. I look forward to seeing all of you in a couple of weeks!