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Collegiate Nationals Multiple Divisions


WiscoSkier
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I know a lot of ballers are collegiate skiers (Ex, current, or somehow connected to the world of collegiate 3-event) I was just curious on what the thoughts are on splitting Nationals into three divisions to keep things more competitive. As a Midwest skier the most frustrating part in my opinion is being on the bubble of D1 and D2. If you Go D1 its basically try not to get last, If you go D2 you are in the top 3 seeds typically with a good shot at winning. So I am looking for opinions on going to three divisions. Having the exact same amount of teams go (8-8-8 instead of 12-12). With the wild card show last night the divisions have been announced and a prime example is UW LAX who took 3rd in there region and went D1 and have no chance in my opinion placing any higher than 9th with all of them skiing PBs. If they went D2 they would have a good chance at winning, not an easy win but would keep the skiers competitive as a team. Now it is fun to have your 5th round slalom skier have to clarify with the boat crew that they want 32mph not 32 off as the top seeds in d1 are all starting there or shorter it does lower the drive for some of the lower seeds to ski at there best ability. Just looking for thoughts Pros and Cons of this.
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In 2014 Texas A&M placed 9th in D2, and just 4 years later, placed 7th in D1 last year behind ULM, ULL, Alabama, Florida Southern, Rollins, and San Diego State (essentially 2nd behind the perennial powers). Do they wish that they would be in D2 instead so that they would have a shot at the D2 National Championship? NO! They are thrilled to be able to go out there and build a program that can be competitive with extremely limited funding. I don't think watering down the collegiate nationals would be more effective. If you want to be more competitive: recruit more members, develop the skiing ability of your members, etc.

 

By creating another division, all you are doing is creating another bubble!

 

NCWSA is doing the best as far as membership retention and growth as far as USA Water Ski sport divisions go. They're obviously doing something right.

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Not a collegiate skier so take what I have to say with a grain of salt but I agree with @Broussard. Some teams are always going to be on the bubble. If it were me I would want my team to strive to ski in D1 and compete with the best.

 

If you go to more divisions you could always go to 8 divisions of 3 and every team will get a medal. I know this is a bit flip but some team is always going to be the team on the edge. The 8th team in a 3 team structure would still not have a chance to win D1 but would be very competitive in D2.

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@broussard I don't disagree. I skied in D1 nationals last year and had an absolute blast but as a former leader on my team I know for a fact we could have leveraged more money out of our university with a D2 national championship than we could taking 7th-12th in D1. Building the team is essential to consistently have competitive teams every year. But with the lack of 3 events lakes in the Midwest near universities, I believe the only reason many Wisconsin schools survive is the inflow of show skiers who are comfortable on the water and learn how to 3-event ski. I don't know much about texas's turnaround from 9th in D2 to to taking 7th In D1 but I do know that they can train all school year unlike the Midwest. Unfortunately we have water temps under 55 already and only going to continue to drop. Thanks for the input @broussard just trying to see how people would feel about this.
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@WiscoSkier I admire what you guys do in the Midwest. I consider the midwest to be the strongest region by far as far as collegiate waterskiing goes. The sheer number of teams and skiers that come from your region is outstanding especially considering the short season that you face.

 

Your point about being able to leverage funding by earning a d2 national championship is an interesting point that I never thought about. In my experience with big schools in south, I don't see that having any effect on funding.

 

A lot of new teams struggle to survive in the south central region due to the football is king culture as well as fighting to get members to choose to go to a ski tournament instead of a football game or fraternity/sorority event.

 

Kudos to the midwest for the passion and continued growth of collegiate skiing.

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@Broussard the Midwest also struggles with the football and fraternity issues.

 

We also receive little to no university support (like under $2,000 a year) and your club is often fighting against other club sports to receive the limited funding from the university and I know they reward being successful. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to explain to several different school officials that a Midwest team skiing against ull or ulm would be like the club basketball team playing against LeBron James and the Lakers.

 

It is what it is and as an alumni now I know the skiers will have just as much fun on and off the water no mater what division they are placed in and that's all that really matters.

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Interesting thought. In general, more competitiveness leads to more fun so I'd have to say 3 divisions would be a good thing. I just watched @JeffSurdej video on the seeding (which was really cool!) 8-8-8 would still be lopsided at D1, but D2 and D3 would theoretically be more competitive. Really, looking at the numbers, D1 could be the 1-5 seeds, D2 6-15 and D3 16-24 to make nationals competitive on a team basis. Again, that's just from looking at the virtual tournament ranking on the presentation and not having the more in-depth knowledge of how this works in practice. I'm sure there's a reason why it's set up the way it is.
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Maybe someone will chime in thats been around for a while. To my knowledge, when collegiate water skiing started there was only one national champion with a 12 team nationals. From what I can gather the two division system was implemented in 2002 creating a 20 team nationals (12 D1, 8 D2) which then became a 22 team nationals (12 D1, 10 D2) before reaching the 24 team format that we have today (12 D1, 12 D2).

 

If creating another division will grow the number of skiers and teams in collegiate waterskiing as a whole, I think it's something to look into. Perhaps Ohio State and San Diego State could provide good insight. They are teams that typically win their region, but are never in contention for the national title as the regional champion is automatically placed in D1.

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That’s where stategy comes in to play during the season. If you can’t get top three in D1, or if you’re worried about being last in D1, and those concerns are paramount for your team, make sure you plan your rosters so that you don’t qualify D1.

Lpskier

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Seems like back in the day they had an A and B team at tournaments. I remember skiing at tournaments my first year but didn't go to nationals. The next year I would have gone but we just missed out. No D1 D2 back then. We always were shooting for nationals but we were competing for one spot due to ULM. Its more about participation. My first thought about 3 divisions was another everybody gets a trophy thing but it's an interesting argument getting more funding from the University.
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If your goal is to win, you need a plan. If you are not a “top tier” school, I.e., not ULM, ULF, Bama, Rollins, USF, and a couple others, it’s pretty unlikely that you will field a winning D1 team. Being a D2 Champion, to me, is a big deal (my daughter is the 2014 D2 women’s jump champ). If you are really a D2 team and you qualify D1, you are screwed if your goal is to be a champion. So if you are that team, your first step to winning is avoid D1. That seems like a pretty straightforward concept to me. @BoneHead I’m sure you are not implying that D2 skiers are midgets. Why, I know for a fact that several of those kids are well over six feet!

Lpskier

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@Broussard As a former Ohio State skier, it is a bit frustrating being the “best of the rest” at D1 Nationals. We finished 6th in 2016, behind the perennial power 5, and received zero recognition for that accomplishment. But Miami of Ohio went home as “National Champions” for effectively placing 13th?

 

To us (and every other school aside from ULM/ULL/Bama/FSC/Rollins), placing 6th is “winning” Nationals, because the top 5 are simply in a different league. If they were to split Nationals into 3 divisions, I would suggest something along the lines of 1-5/6-15/16-24. I would actually prefer a 2 division set up of 1-5/6-24, although that doesn’t make sense logistically.

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Sandbagging your scores to be D2 instead of D1 is cheating, no conversation needed.

 

The Midwest definitely has a big issue here though, at Iowa there was a $40K "club sport budget" and 52 club sports asking for money. Successful clubs had priority and as a former leader on that team we received $500 on a good year. I don't know if we need to split the divisions any farther, certainly a Midwest team isn't competitive with the ULMs of this world, but I think the bigger issue is creating a way for teams who have made it to nationals to show the level of accomplishment that is (especially in the Midwest, what, 9 of 40 teams go) to help them leverage more funding for the accomplishment.

 

Most of the skiers are thrilled to be at nationals... in fact in the Midwest you have to qualify for Regionals so that's pretty exciting in it's own right. The skiers themselves outside the die hards on the team don't care as much about how they place, getting there was the fun part, the road trip was the fun part, going somewhere warm to ski when it's wetsuit weather back home is the fun part. They do need a way to show just what level of an accomplishment getting there was though.

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I would think that most Big 10 schools get pretty pumped about winning their conference in football or basketball, even if they don't win a national title. So pump the fact that you won your region, not the fact that you took 8th at D1 Nationals. I doubt most school administrators know or care about who ULM of FSC is anyway. But I bet OSU officials care about beating Michigan and vice versa.
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This has always been a tough situation, we have tried very hard to create an atmosphere where teams hopefully would rather get last in D1 over winning D2 but that's tough to create, who wouldn't want to say they are D2 champs. I know many in the past preferred to be on the dock with the top teams and many said they felt last in D1 was better but I don't think that holds true for all. I think this goes for any sport, even at AWSA Nationals there is quite the difference between what it takes to get to nationals vs what it takes to win and for many they simply do not attend. NCWSA is blessed to have such an atmosphere where no one simply would ever pass up the chance to go.

 

Ideally NCWSA does not want to even have 2 divisions, we only did so b/c we wanted to bring more teams to Nationals but its a weird concept when you do not compete as D2 all year but then you do at Nationals, so ideally we would love a 24 team nationals and that what it is. But there is no way to finish an event in one day if you do that. I don;t like going to 3 divisions but the idea of rearranging the 2 divisions to more properly fit talent is not a bad idea but how do you do it. Scholarships is a shady road to go down as some of those top schools don't give athletic scholarships, only academic, or some in state vs out of state, it might be a logistic nightmare to monitor and regulate. And then where is the cutoff, even Rollins this year is predicted to be 5th but 3,000 out of 4th and 2,000 above 6th, so if we did something as such there will always be the bubble team.

 

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@lpskier I've driven, judged, and scored numerous collegiate and collegiate regionals tournaments. Oh and a nationals, too. When I witness a team leader coaching jumpers to miss their jump because they're in jeopardy of making it into D1, then that is a problem. And yes, this actually happened. I even had an email discussion with Jeff about it afterwards because he was the head of NCWSA at the time. I think that same team leader missed her slalom run on purpose. That type of thing is flat out cheating.
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I’m a recent Midwest grad and had heard this suggested at regionals last weekend. I was shocked at he notion that teams don’t want to ski Division 1. I skied in 3 nationals for Michigan State, all D1, finishing in the bottom couple each time. But I wouldn’t change a thing! Personally, I would much rather compete with the best skiers in the world standing on the dock behind you as opposed to going at it in D2 with many of the same teams you did a weekend prior at regionals. How many times on your life will you get to say you stood on the same dock and skied in the same round as Freddie Winter, KC Wilson, etc... there's something rewarding about saying you're D1.

 

As for funding, i'm not sure how it works at other schools but division would have no impact on how much we get. The school sets aside a lump some for club sports, we apply, and either get a very very small stipend or don’t.

 

For me, natty’s was all about the experience. A reward for your teams success throughout the season. We knew we weren’t going to win, but we competed for ourselves, each other, and against the best in the world. Michigan State is going D2 for the first time in a 5+ years and it’ll be interesting to hear their perspectives this year. Maybe mine will change.

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The idea is 12th place in D1 is more of an accomplishment than 1st place D2(13th place so to speak). The reality isn't so clear. Numerous times teams have sandbagged to fall to D2, and win Nationals. Nothing has been done about it. What this does is, as has been pointed out, allow them to go back to their Sport Club Council and show they won Nationals, receiving attention, accolades, and likely a larger budget. Doesn't hurt recruiting either, but not the kind of recruiting some of you seem to think occurs at every school.

 

I like the "Varsity" vs "Club" idea. The fact is, as stated, placing 6th behind the "Varsity" schools is likely the greatest achievement, given what that team really had to accomplish.

 

Collegiate skiing isn't like the other sports, and I think some people need a better understanding of exactly how it is structured at the schools, and that most of these "teams" are mere sport clubs, and one of 50+ that the school is taking care of. Resources are very limited, BigTen school or not.

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@BoneHead and @jeffSurdej I know I would never have told someone to miss a jump or purposely fall on an opening pass. But when we have 3-5 show skiers that all can land jumps and one of them jumping far enough to podium (like she did the last two weekends), but they all want to go to a football game instead of a ski tournament we wouldn't put the pressure on them to come to a earlier tournament knowing that they would come to regionals.

 

@walleye I am pretty sure they give every team a trophy, the banquet was a little fuzzy last year. any one that goes to the nationals banquet and sees the Midwest skiers will understand what I mean.

 

As much as this pains me to say as someone who has a deep hatred for OSU and who has lost to OSU two years in a row at regionals I also agree with @bbrannan and @OSUwaterskier

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Having been involved peripherally in a couple Collegiate Nationals, the D1/D2 break is logistically critical. We are able to include so many more teams because of the break and make the tournament manageable.

 

Just what I've seen out west: Nobody wants to lose Regionals so they can go D2. Sometimes a tough tournament (we don't always ski to our potential) takes the performance incentive away from the last events - "it's a long drive home, don't risk an injury, concentrate on that homework not the tournament". I have never heard any sandbagging plans - just some consolation rationalization when things haven't gone as well as hoped.

 

Every solid D1 team (a middle of the pack team) wants to be D1 - D2 is a bummer. When a solid D2 team sneaks into last place D1, they have been elated!

 

College skiing changes every year (or four). Perennial bubble teams just don't last long enough to be an issue.

 

There are no legacy guarantees. Enjoy the experience in the here and now. And it's not about winning when the top schools points are multiples of the rest of the schools - it's about inclusive experiences.

 

If we feel that more rewards are needed, perhaps awards for things like the best non scholarship school, best northern school, best rebuild, best late start school might offset the value of the D2 best of the rest title. D2 works - and the qualification challenge at any level drives fun competition.

 

Long live College skiing!

 

Eric

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@JeffSurdej Hopefully accommodations can be made to the whole season rankings to value the late starting schools. UC schools start a couple weeks before Regionals. How can they even field a team for tournaments before school starts much less earn high seedings? Pure numbers and sandbagging fears are not the only quality measures of National seeding.

 

Eric

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Seams as though you could run it as one tournament with two series like worlds. Series 1 = Seeds 1-12, Series 2 = Seeds 13 to 24. Incentive would be to get into Series 1, also outstanding skiers on Series 2 teams could win National Champion medals.
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Sometimes D1 and D2 run on different lakes with different boats and different judging (shore judging and assistants for D2). Hundred skier events are just too unwieldy. Multiple rounds are not an option with the time constraints (but might be fun and could work even with the D1/D2 split). Separating the events works too well.

 

Eric

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As a skier for a team that is constantly flipping between D1 and D2 from year to year, I would much rather go D1 every time, because in my mind I'd rather lose to some of the best skiers in the world than win against teams that have no chance at coming close to us. Unfortunately this is not the mindset of everyone on teams like this. On the subject of funding, some school's club sports organizations reward teams based on the number of events they win or tournaments they place highly at blindly, we can tell them that we lost to the winningest team in all of college sports, but it doesn't mean anything to them, their guidelines reward successes. We would never EVER dream of sandbagging for this reason, we are all out there to ski our best; we went D1 last year and wanted to go D1 this year, but being unable to practice at our home site for the entire season because of flooding, that becomes much harder. Aspirations aside, what all of that means money wise is that us having a power year and finishing low in D1 can result in less funding or priority with our overseers than us having a less successful year and winning or finishing high in D2. Funds are crucial to a team like us that brings upwards of 50 skiers to the conference tournament, most of whom have never been to a tournament before, and have to pull between 50 and 75 skiers for practice weekly at the home site.

 

addendum: I can't say for certain, but I'd be willing to bet the administrations of power schools care about whether their teams win nationals, and may adjust funding/support appropriately. It's no different for us, just with orders of magnitude less money/support. And that's what a 3 division nationals would do in my mind, more accurately separate competitive groups. I sort of envision it ending up as the power schools, the highly competitive club schools, and the beginning teams/building year teams.

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This sounds like an excellent opportunity to try and create more “Varsity Teams”. What about rewarding the D1 6th-8th places with an “NBA type lottery pick”. The college club gets to compete the next couple of years like the “Varsity Teams” - scholarship money to recruit with, team lessons, a promo boat and coaching/counseling on how to maintain this level recruitment & competition after they move up in status. More “Varsity Teams” = “higher profile” = “more interest/skiers” = “more boats sold” = “more money” = “more Varsity Teams”.
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@unksskis College skiing IS about the experience. No money so the pro college skiers don't care about winning. Sometimes, but not often, the D2 winners might make on the D1 podium but I'm not sure a D2 winner has ever beaten the D1 winner.

 

But the cheering, the tents, meeting the other skiers who turn into life long friends - yes it's the experience. The choice between the frat or sorority party or the tournament? The tournament has plenty of advantages - unrelated to any medals.

 

Eric

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College teams getting money and support from the school? Not sure I've seen that on a meaningful level. It might be more a question if the school will allow the team to compete.

 

Generous private donors, yes. But that doesn't seem to be a results based correlation.

 

Maybe things are different out west.

 

The biggest problem might be getting a skier admitted to a school - 60,000 applicants for 6000 freshmen is good odds?

 

Eric

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I can attest that I never had trouble convincing a bunch of college kids to go ski and party all weekend. That wins over anything they'd be doing on campus almost 100% of the time. I can also say that while "we place Xth in the region last year" isn't a bad selling point, it's more of a point of pride for last year's members, it can in some ways scare away new recruits who then don't think they're "good enough" to be a collegiate skier. I don't need to do much to convince the good skier to join, they want to ski and they want to compete, I'm offering them both. I need to work much harder to get people who have ridden a ski but don't know if they really need to be on a ski team to stick around. To get them, it's much more about advertising how fun tournaments are, how much fun the group of people is on and off the water, it's your social group, they're your best friends.
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@eleeski I think university relations as whole could improve but I don't see that happening. With waterskiing being such a different sport compared to the traditional ball sports every bit of funding we received has helped.

 

I graduated from the university of Wisconsin Madison which has 4.3 miles of shoreline on lake Mendota, We couldn't even get access to a dock or lift, even offering to purchase our own to use on campus. Thankfully we found a generous family that lets us store the team boat on lake Monona (1 mile from campus) which has a slalom course and a show ski jump.

 

Anyway we can leverage money from the university for exampling claiming to be D2 national champions instead of 11th place D1 helps keep our cost down. My senior year we put 330 hours on the team Mastercraft (which is club owned with no help from the university) in 5 months. Without the little money from the university we receive practice would have been much more limited based on just the cost of fuel.

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@eleeski I don't disagree, but there is a reality of costs, time, and priorities. An additional tournament with nothing to compete for, but for an experience, doesn't out-weigh all those all the time. If they're in the greek system, they're only allowed to miss so much (sometimes). They're also hearing all those great stories about tailgating and football games, and everything they've missed out on. Random examples, but at some point, to some, it's just another tournament.

 

Money may not be in it for the Pro's, but there's more than just school pride, there's scholarships, records, sponsor placements, etc.

 

I respect all the teams and skiers, but there is something special about an ASU, Purdue, Ohio State, and the like to be able to put teams together to even come close to competing with the Varsity schools, they are my Champions.

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In my experience, our team has about 3-5 greek skiers every year, and they seem to REALLY enjoy the sport/experience, and usually make time to ski and go to tournaments. There is always that one or two that would rather go to something greek, but as a whole, they're usually at tournaments unless they have a mandatory something else to attend. Tournaments are REALLY fun, and once they figure that out, they are hooked.
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My $0.02 - There is definitely a difference between a team and a club. I think D1 vs D2 should be based upon some definition like that.

 

For example: (subject to extreme tweaking)

D1 teams are any collegiate ski organization which met any of the following criteria since the prior nationals:

a) Placed in the top 5 in last year's nationals

b) Received more than 1/10 the median household income in funding directly from the school. (roughly $6k in 2018)

c) Awarded 1 or more skier scholarships for more than $1000 (or whatever is the right amount)

d) Has a dedicated adult coach who's primary role is team coach and who's salary is paid by the school

...etc

I'm not sure what else should be on the list. Probably some more items not focused solely on funding. I'm sure those amounts are not the right ones either. See? Defining the exact line may be difficult. I'm not even sure that each team who is 1st place in their region should be forced to ski D1. Possibly it could be optional if they did not meet the above criteria.

 

The idea is that there really are two levels of ski teams. One level of team is highly funded, established, and equipped for top echelon domination. The others are just clubs doing their best. Further, a given college may "qualify" as D1 one year and D2 the next. It depends upon if they meet the definition during that ski year.

 

Even if you disagree with those example definitions, do you think the line between D1 and D2 should have something to do with separating the clubs from the legit teams?

 

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@unksskis its an interesting deal, there are clearly athletes on colleges teams who come up through junior skiing with loads of support, coach parents, gear, that carry that level of support through collegiate waterski. The open division as it were.

 

Say you are an up and coming junior athlete whos parents pay for coaching lake time etc. But you earn prize money or sponsorships or are endorsing a ski company. If this were NCAA basketball that prize money or endorsement would disqualify you from div I and II eligibility.

 

Quite a few skiers who would currently have that issue, come into college with a nautiques or d3 or MC Skis or reflex etc.etc. endorsement, if we were a ncaa sport that would be a DQ. Checks at events??? Id dad paid to send you thats not equal to or less than your expense to participate, thats straight prize money.

 

Point being there is a real solid arguement that you could have noneligable athletes if we were an NCAA sport.

 

Is that D1? Are these ineligible atheletes?

 

If D3 wants to advertise their junior champ is that restrictive of their collegiate participation?

 

All sorts of questions if we want to be a real sport.

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Hmm. A Team should know what division it is in for purposes of the National Championships, before the year begins. If there are only 5 D1 schools, then so be it.

If the regions want to do it differently, that should not be a problem.

 

For some misplaced analogies:

If UC Davis beats USC in football, they are still D2 and they still compete against D2 in the championships. If Appalachian state moves up to D1, then they are D1. They cannot be pitted against D2 at the end of year championships because they are not competitive in D1. If North Dakota State can recruit a Carson Wentz, they are still D2, doesn't matter if they are a lot better than all the other D2 Schools.

 

Maybe it should not be as difficult for a school to move divisions, as it is in football. But, qualify, or not, succeed, or not, live with your division for at least a year. Deciding what division you are in after the results are in is arbitrary and capricious.

 

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You can't apply other sports to NCWSA, those are still academic("varsity") programs at each school, D2 or not. Divisions in skiing are determined how a school is performing. Losing a few skiers can kill a program, whether they were "D1" the previous year or not.

 

@BraceMaker I don't desire it to, it's better left as it is regarding NCAA. That wasn't my intent if that impression was given. I'm merely saying it's fantastic that there are schools and programs that have such strong ski teams, we have these concerns for the others.

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@unsksskis. There is no reason one cannot, or should not compare Skiing to other college sports. To your point - losing a few players in basketball can kill a program. Signing just two top recruits can make you a national contender. You still know in what division you will compete - before you start the season. College Snow skiing is not so different than water skiing. Only 41 colleges have programs. But, you don't compete an entire season before you learn what division you will be in. That's an absurd policy.

 

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In college basketball, you qualify for the tournament by success during the year - like waterskiing. If you aren't quite good enough you qualify for the NIT - like waterskiing. Basketball is quite popular. College waterskiing is arguably the most vibrant aspect of waterskiing. Maybe the current format works well enough.

 

Eric

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I agree with @eleeski, a panda worthy offense I know, but qualifying based on what you've proven you can do makes more sense. our D1/D2 really doesn't operate in the same way as it does in most of college athletics. The ability for a team that isn't one of the ULMs of the world to qualify for D1 is serious bragging rights in their own region, shows that they are the elite team(s) in town. I don't think it makes sense to tell 75 of the 80 teams that they can't qualify for D1. Part of what makes collegiate skiing so good is that it's been able to keep the best part of the sport front and center, and the best part of the sport isn't scoring at a tournament, it's being on the lake with a bunch of friends. Adding a bunch of rules telling talented skiers that because they aren't pros they can't play would be a step backwards. Not to say our D1/D2 system is perfect... but I don't think it's broken either.
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