How US athletes earn World Cup starts
Have you ever wondered how a ski racer earns a World Cup start? What does it take to get the phone call for Soelden like Foreste Peterson did? Now, the specifics are available. The U.S. Ski Team has released its criteria for earning World Cup starts this Olympic season.
In order to be considered for entry in a World Cup, U.S. Ski & Snowboard members must have a U.S. passport, a valid USA-coded FIS license, and meet FIS minimum eligibility standards. Assuming they do, coaches can begin to fill their quota.
The quotas are controlled by FIS. The National Quota is calculated periodically throughout the season based on the World Cup Start List (WCSL). A country can have a maximum of eight athletes in this quota. The Basic Quota establishes that each national ski association affiliated with FIS may enter one competitor (with the exception for alpine combined and parallel events) in FIS World Cup races as long as they meet certain eligibility criteria.
U.S. athletes are selected for available quota spots based on WCSL points, World Cup points, FIS Point rankings, and Europa Cup and NorAm results. Selections are prioritized based on the following criteria until the country’s quota is filled:
- Athletes with a current top-30 WCSL ranking in the discipline
- Athletes with 500 overall World Cup points will be awarded priority to quota spots above all other selection methods if determined by the head coach.
- If an athlete earns a Europa Cup podium result, the athlete will be entered in the next available World Cup in the same discipline.
- Winners of World Cup fixed spots through the NorAm circuit from the prior season will have their start rights when they meet all FIS eligibility criteria. If application of these criteria would result in a total team size exceeding the current FIS quota, the following tie-breaking mechanism (in order) shall be used: Best FIS points in the discipline.
Outside of that criteria, there are opportunities for coaches’ discretionary spots. Fans may see these used at races like Killington where the host nation has a larger quota. Currently the U.S. has three quota spots in giant slalom for ladies. But as host nation at the Killington World Cup, the U.S. could start up to six athletes. The discretionary spots will be filled after considering factors like a demonstrated ability in training, races, and time trials that would indicate a strong likelihood of scoring World Cup points.
When an athlete qualifies, criteria states, “Achieving a start right does not include funding from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, nor does it automatically include ski service. The U.S. Ski team will provide onsite event logistical support of hotel, coaching, and representation.” This means independent athletes can get World Cup starts but not necessarily full national team support.