For thousands of New Zealanders alpine skiing is not just a pastime but also a passion. And many - whether entry-level racers or ex-National Team members - are finding that both their pleasure and their skiing skills are enhanced by participating in Masters ski racing. Many masters competitors do not wish to race internationally but aligning the New Zealand regulations (where possible) with those of Europe will make it easier for New Zealand to hold FIS sanctioned masters races.
Masters racing provides adults, 18 years and older, with a unique mix of peer-group competition and camaraderie. In addition to training and racing programs to fulfill one's personal goals, Masters racing offers its participants a chance to interact with a highly sociable group of like-minded people from all walks of life and different countries.
Masters races are held in all four alpine disciplines - Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and Downhill - and are open to anyone from 18 years of age up.
In recognition of this burgeoning area of competition, Ski Racing New Zealand (SRNZ) in 2000 established a Masters division. In 2004, a committee was formed to specifically oversee the organization of the Masters ski racing.
That committee was called the Ski Racing New Zealand Alpine Masters Committee. It is now referred to as the NZ Ski Masters Committee.
Subsequently the Masters (SRNZAM) became completely independent of SRNZ and assumed responsibility for all it’s activities and finances. It is commonly referred to as NZ Ski Masters. An association with Snow Sports New Zealand (formerly SRNZ) exists in as much as there is a Masters division in regional races and Masters are included in the annual Snow Sports awards.
Prior to 2004, the conduct of Masters races was the responsibility of a somewhat ad hoc collection of Race Organising Committees (ROCs) at different venues each operating according to its own rules.
The committee has helped introduce a uniform set of rules for the conduct of Ski Masters events and has given NZ Ski Masters an international legitimacy that the program has previously lacked.
Persons who reach the age of 18 years by December 31 of the current “Competition Year”, and who are not currently competing in non-masters races. e.g. non-masters FIS.
The competition year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following year as prescribed by FIS.
For example, a person born between Jan 1 and Dec. 31 1992 qualifies to race in NZ Ski Masters races for the first time in the Competition Year 2010/2011 (starting July 1, 2010).
Racers 20 – 29 were able to compete at the discretion of the race organisers.
The age of eligibility was calculated as at 30 June.
Rationale for lowering entry age to 18
1. It enables ski racers to continue racing after they move out of the U18 youth program if they don't want to move on to FIS.
2. It allows young adult skiers to discover the fun of ski racing without having to wait until they are 30.
Both Canada and the USA Masters have lowered their age of eligibility. The need has not arisen in Europe because of the continuity afforded to athletes by the racing programs of local ski clubs.
Membership fees are included in the race entry fee. The race organisers pay a small part of the race entry fee to the NZ Ski Masters.
The membership fees are used to maintain the website and distribute information regarding NZ Ski Masters.
Originally it was mandatory to be a member of SRNZAM and the annual membership fee was collected separately. To reduce administration the masters membership fee is now included within each race entry. This fee is paid by the race organiser to NZ Ski Masters.
It is currently (2016) set at $10 per competitor per event no matter how many races make up the event.
Rationale for mandatory membership.
The SSNZ (previously SRNZ) constitution required that any NZ competitor - without distinction as to Juniors, Seniors, or Masters - who is actively engaged in alpine ski racing at sanctioned events is a member of SSNZ.
This now does not bind NZ Ski Masters since there separation from SRNZ. SSNZ is not required to sanction NZ Ski Masters events.
Age classes are in line with FIS rules with each class spanning 5 years from 30 up. e.g. Class 1 is 20 - 24, Class 2 is 25 - 29, etc.
Racers aged 18 - 29 are grouped in one group "Class 0".
Note 1: FIS Masters have a additional grouping categories A, B and C for awarding race points, where A = Men 30 – 54, B = Men 55 and above, C = Women. (also there is a category D = women 55 and over that is recognised for category prises)
Note 2: At the 2009 AGM it was agreed that ages 75 and above will be included in Class 10 because there are very few competitors over 75 years.
Note 3: In 2012 this was reversed by request from the affected competitors so that all ages compete in their appropriate 5 year age group.
Certain Giant Slalom races are designated as counting towards the overall NZ Ski Masters Championship.
Points are also calculated for Slalom and Downhill/Super-G but no prises are given for these series.
The designated races are those where the courses are of an acceptably high (e.g. FIS) standard and they use the NZ Ski Masters handicap points formula.
These races are currently (2016) the races scheduled at: Snowplanet, Mt.Hutt, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone.
In order to award points for these series, a competitor's actual race time is first adjusted by applying the handicap formula that introduces an age differential. This differential changes for each year of age, so that, for example, the handicap time of a 67 year old woman is deemed to be 82% of her actual time. Then the handicap results for men and women of all ages are ranked and points awarded accordingly for each place. (See the "Calculation" page for the formula.) The handicap formula was introduced in 2004.
For GS and SL an athlete's three (3) best results count towards the points series. For DH / SG the athlete's two (2) best results count towards the points series.
In the event that two or more athletes tie on points, the points series title will go to the oldest athlete.
Titles for the Giant Slalom Points Series Championship are awarded at the Annual Snow Sports Awards Dinner in October.
Only New Zealand residents can receive the points series titles.
These include such events as those of the international FIS Masters Cup (FMC) (a points series conducted in Europe, the USA and Canada) and the Criterium Mondial (WCM) (in effect the FIS Masters World Championship). NZ Masters members are also welcome to compete in Masters events in Canada and the U.S.A.
Athletes wishing to compete in FIS masters events must be a member of Snow Sports NZ (as of Dec 2015 each individual must join SSNZ by paying the membership fee through their website – snowsports.co.nz), and apply through SSNZ to obtain a FIS code.
From 2016 the FIS registration fee is included with the SSNZ Masters membership.
They should also consult the FIS website for further information about compliance with FIS specifications for racer's equipment and details of the Race Schedule for these international competitions.
The committee is comprised of up to eight members who are elected at the Annual General Meeting usually held during the NZ Skiing Masters event at Coronet Peak in August.
Race notices are issued by the various race organisers and will be posted on the Ski Masters website www.skimasters.org.nz. Race entries and fees are to be returned to the relevant race organisers.
The following is a suggested format for races. The race organiser, however, has full discretion within their events.
Race start order
The class start order is the same for all disciplines:
Class 14, 13, 12, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 in that order. First women then men in each class .
Then women class 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Then men class 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Within each class, start in descending age order.
At the discretion of the race organiser the start order may be reversed within each class for the second run.
Number of Runs
For Downhill and Super G - one run
For Slalom and Giant Slalom - two runs
If a competitor is disqualified in the first run they are usually allowed to complete a second run but they will not have a combined result for the race.
All classes usually ski the same course.
The course is usually re-set for the second run.
Results are published separately for Men and Women in the following sections.
Where there are two runs the times are combined.
By Class: Raw times within each class.
By Handicap: Across all classes on handicap time.
By Raw Times: Across all classes on raw time.
Medals are usually awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class placings.
The individual event organisers award trophies for particular categories at their discretion.
e.g. Overall on handicap, fastest time of the day
A TD is not usually employed on a NZ Ski Masters race, but if the race organiser requires a member of the NZ Ski Masters committee member can be requested to help with advice on how the race can be run to the usual NZ Ski Masters standard.