Entry Fees And Costs To Put On A Race

This week, I want to address race org feedback and the work that goes into any ski race, but specifically a CXC Cup race.

For starters, the feedback I am generally looking for when discussing a race weekend is feedback that a good race organization can reasonably take action on.  Things like the schedule, course control, adjustments in grooming, placing of course marshals, race lengths, rules that were not followed, etc.  Feedback that is achievable is what we need.  We had a request for wax trucks.  Asking for ventilated wax trucks to come in for a weekend is in theory a step forward and an improvement.  But, in reality, such a request is not helpful as 1. there are not any such trucks available in our area, and 2. such a request is cost prohibitive with the resources we have as a region.  I will filter feedback such as this from our race orgs, as we do not live in Utopia.

After the Gitchi Gami Games, I got some feedback that race prices were too high and an impediment participation.  I understand that race entry fees have been drifting up, but so have the costs to put on a race.

Here is a sample conservative  CXC Cup Super JNQ Budget:

Revenue Total:  $23,400
Entry Fees – JNQ – 2 races – $60 x 200 – $12,000
Entry Fees – JNQ – 1 race – $35 x 20 – $700
Entry Fees – NCAA College – 2 races – $60 x 60 – $3600
Entry Fees – Youth Cup – 2 races – $30 x 60 – $1800
Entry Fees – Youth Cup – 1 race – $15 x 20 – $300
Entry Fees – Open – 2 races – $60 x 20 – $1200
Entry Fee Total – $19,000 from 370 racers Youth Cup to College
CXC Support (Consulting, Race Supplies) – $3000 value in kind/trade
Lodging Support – 4 rooms x 2 nights ($100/rm night) – $800
Concessions Sales – $500 (May be done by a local non profit partner and thus be $0)
Expenses Total:  $22,550
Race Administration Total – $9850
USSA/FIS Sanctioning and Head Taxes – $1500
Postage, Phone, Copier, Paper, etc. – $300
Registration and Data Services – $500
Advertising and Promotion – $250
Web Services – $250
Awards/Medals – $500
Competitor Gifts – $1000 (could be CXC merchandise such as a ski ties)
Coaches Meeting Refreshments – $250
Volunteer Hospitality, Refreshments and Meals – $1500
Volunteer Appreciation – $1000 (could be CXC merchandise such as a buff)

Comp Lodging – (TDs, Timers, VIPs) 4 rooms x 2 nights ($100/rm night) – $800
TD Expenses (TD and Asst TD) Total – $450
Travel – $150
Per Diem – $300 ($50/day NRL, $100/day FIS)

Race Production Total – $13,500
Site Use Fees – $5000
(Grooming Expenses/Daily Trail Passes/Snowmaking Costs/Etc.)
Contracted Timing Services – $4000
Walkie Talkie Radio Rentals – $200
Portable Toilets – $1500
Tent Rentals – $800
Heater Rentals – $500
Generator Rentals – $1500
Miscellaneous Total – $750
Profits/Losses Total:  +$~850

As you can see, there is not a lot of money to be made on hosting these events.  Yes, sponsorship could help make an event very profitable.  But, most of our race orgs are having a hard time simply getting comped rooms for the TDs, so expecting our race orgs to find local sponsorship in the thousands of dollars to support a CXC Cup race is unrealistic.  Some may look at the race production fees and say that they may not be necessary for many of our venues.  This may be true, but is only true because these venues have invested in the infrastructure to host races at a high level, and their investment should not be denied a return.

I will support our race orgs being able to be profitable for a race weekend.  At best, it is a very good weekend for our race orgs to turn a profit of $5000 for their non profit organizations.  When you figure that to make this $5000, it takes more than 60 volunteers on average 8+ hours a piece, and a core of race Chiefs that are putting in countless hours in preparation, this is easily a 1000 hours or more of work, or $5/hr if an org has a good weekend.  There are also many weekends where race orgs break even or raise less than $2000.  For the amount of work going into these events, pricing seems on the mark to me.

There have also been questions about who we are subsidizing.  If you look at race entry fees, you will see we have given youth a lower price point.  Organizationally, CXC has determined that youth are the group we want to encourage with a lower entry fee and reduce the barrier to entry.  It is our feeling organizationally that the junior ages on up should all be paying the same rate, whether they are a novice high schooler making their first jump into regional racing or they are more experienced and hoping to make the podium.  At the end of the day, the costs to host a race per racer are the same for the novice or the expert.

With respect to CXC head taxes, it is not cost free for CXC to be involved in sanctioning the races, scoring the races, promoting the races, assisting with data management, advising local race orgs, etc.  Services have costs to them that need to be accounted for and the head tax is the best way to make sure those who are getting the benefits are sharing in the burden of paying for these services.

The bottom line is  I do not disagree with the thoughts that a CXC Cup race weekend is no cheap endeavor.  However, this being said, the difference between an entry fee along the lines of $30 for a weekend as opposed to the current $60 for a weekend does not to me seem to be the limiting factor of participation when you look at the other costs of transportation, lodging, meals and waxing.  (Even if the weekend was $10-$20 for entries, I don’t see the entry fee being the limiting factor.)  The days of waxing a single pair of skis with a limited number of hydrocarbon glide waxes and one line of kick waxes out of the car trunk, skiing on a trail set with a snowmobile/track sled and the races being hand timed are in the nostalgic past.  The sport has changed and modernized at a significant increased cost to participate.  That is the world we live in, we can either resist it with little success or we can understand it and do our best to deal with it and move forward.

I hope our club leadership can join me in this understanding, pass this reality along to our membership (both your local club’s and also CXC’s in general), and support our race organizations who are working hard to provide high quality events for a small return to their organizations.

Joe Haggenmiller
CXC Director of Athletics

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