Featured Lila Lapanja update

Discussion in 'Racing and Competition' started by Muleski, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    Many may know of Lila Lapanja, who's almost 23, and a native of Truckee, CA. Lila, other than some Schiffrin kid was arguably our next best SL skier {perhaps a touch behind Resi}. She scored her first World Cup Points, has plowed through injury, and in a move that I would say was quite unpopular with many, even controversial, was dropped by the USST. She did not meet the "objective criteria".

    I have thought the decision was nuts. Look at our SL ranks? We have Mikeala, and Resi near the end of the road and...........

    Two years ago, when MS was winning WC SL races by three seconds, Lila was right on her heels in training. She has always had jets, and it was acknowledged that she just needed to get it consistent. Which is not insurmountable.

    At any rate, her sponsor Clif Bar has risen to the occasion, to say the very least. They are not just supporting her by writing a check, they have essentially built her a team, with a world class coach and a tech. Her father, also a coach will be heavily involved. This is like a factory team, in some respects.

    If the USST doesn't get their act together, you are going to see MORE of this. Their criteria makes many shake their heads.

    This article appeared today in the premium section of Skiracing. I hope that it will work.

    https://www.skiracing.com/premium/raising-the-bar-2

    Interesting stuff. Word has it from a Pugger or two that she has been skiing really well in Summit County. Wishing her the best in the upcoming NorAms. She'll be back soon. Very talented. Exceptionally athletic. And a "good kid."
     
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  2. scott43

    scott43 Out on the slopes Skier

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    I've always wondered...just how much is the tech worth? I hear that tech and wax is the diff between winning and losing. That so? I mean, all other things being equal.
     
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  3. K2 Rat

    K2 Rat Out on the slopes Skier

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    "Coaches discretion" would have been a nice call for Lila. Has the USST ever used this ? IDK. To me, it looked like when Lila and Paula Moltzan were training together with MS, that they were getting pushed and learning from MK. Both scored WC points in the same SL a couple of years ago. I guess they did not continue a steady rise and Paula was dropped last year, right? I think she went to UVM last year after getting dropped, but maybe that was her preference to race college.

    I saw Tiger's email yesterday about the new development team idea and revamped national team selection criteria, but have not had time to study it to see if it will make a difference.

    Regardless, I think you would want to have a couple of young promising racers around MK and hopefully some little things will rub off. Resi is probably not going to change much. Might even be fun for MK. At least better dance videos ! :)
     
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  4. Drahtguy Kevin

    Drahtguy Kevin Après aficionado Pugski Ski Tester

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    @Muleski, thanks for posting the above. I appreciate what you do to keep me more informed on the racing side of things.
     
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  5. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    That's bit of an oversimplification, but it essence, It makes a HUGE difference. At this level, having the right skis, prepared the right way, with the right "setup" of bindings, plates, and of course boots dialed in is critical. No chance of reaching your potential without it.

    There is also a pecking order of techs. Somebody like @Primoz has lived this life. The big guns often will have their tech move with them, and be put under contract when they move to a new ski company. They won't ink the deal without the tech included. Some of the best have had more than one tech....a team if you will. Some skiers have tech support provided by their companies. Those are the best. Some have techs provided by the ski team or federation who are assigned to specific athletes. The lower you drop down the ladder, the more the tech support is spread out.

    I know a couple of guys who skied at the WC level and insisted that they could do their own tech work, as it would put them more in touch with their own skis, and also make the feel like nobody would do a better job. Made a bit easier with the advent of machines like a SnowGlide and Trione. In retrospect most of them felt that it was a mistake. Just exhausting trying to do the work....every night.

    So in Lila's case she has a world class tech as part of this deal. He does a lot more than tune skis in a clear. He works like a dog, will be on the hill, and will be fulling integrated with the coaching.

    The equipment makes an ENORMOUS difference. Every tech has his or her little tricks and nuances, but having a pro doing this and not needing to deal with it some other way is huge. Heck, even having them to pack up, travel with, set up, etc. the skis and the tuning benches is huge.

    Wax is a science. At the WC level, occasionally a wild selection on race day will create a big difference. Somebody guesses perfectly on what might happen with son or wind. With Lila skiing SL and GS, the wax is a factor. Assume that it's all good, done well, and a pretty even playing field.

    When folks say wax is not critical it's at lower levels, and younger levels, or Masters, Beer League. I've watched a LOT of youth ski racing, domestic FIS races, and even NorAms. At all of those levels, the podium is generally the skiers who ski the cleanest, make the fewest errors, employ the right tactics. At the U16 nationals, the chances of two error free runs by any of the best skiers is slim. So, yeah, they all have skis that are perfectly tuned, and they have the right wax and additives, but they aren't winning because of it, or "losing" because they blew it. Does that make sense? It's why many people get frustrated with the parents who insist on cluelessly waxing a U10's skis with the most expensive race wax, which often they apply incorrectly for the conditions!

    In Lila's case, a team with a full time tech? Huge, IMO.


    I was just thinking of a guy who has a big job with the USST these days. When he was an athlete, he had a couple of down seasons, and he was notified that he as losing his factory tech. His contract was also up. He decided to go to another company, as they would pay him a bit more, but primarily because they would provide him with his own tech. The tech was huge for this guy. Maybe huge "in his head". Not sure it was a great decision, in retrospect.
     
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  6. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    Sure, they have used discretion in the past. If you were a true "chosen one", and they opinion was that you had nothing but upside, and those making the decision were willing to take the spears of others crying favoritism, you could be renominated. It is more frequent when somebody may not have made A team or B team criteria, but was moved up. Less of that now. Since the USST doesn't make it public in terms of who is paying what to be part of the team, and since that is kept under the vest, we don't know. But sure, the team can so whatever they want. Including sticking with the metrics of this criteria......which has to change.

    Paula and Lila {and Resi} all trained together with MS when their schedules allowed, when Brandon Dyksterhouse was the head W's tech coach. Paula and Lila made some big gains, specifically when MS was injured. That is when they scored WC points. I think it was a cause for celebration. A few did not. Let's just say that the person who now holds that title as the head women's tech coach, and his assistant, and a dedicated physio now work with just one athlete. I have heard that Paula was ready and excited abut UVM, getting on with college, etc. It's not like her skiing at UVM and the EISA/NCAA was going to go backwards. She can still work her way back after school. Seems to have worked exceptionally well for the Norwegians. Look for Foreste Peterson of Dartmouth to race in a lot of WC GS's this year.

    Resi is not going to be spending a lot of time with MS. Maybe a few photo ops.

    The "development program" needs a complete re-boot. As does the criteria. And more than a few casually involved think it needs a lot of new thinking and new blood. When the people driving the bus are people who have grown up in the system, literally, and know very little else, thinking differently is hard. Real hard. Fingers crossed on good changes. Of course it will take years to see how it has worked.

    Right now you have good talent electing NOT to accept USST nominations, and convinced that they can get better "everything" outside of the system. That's pretty telling. That was an absolute rarity 10 years ago. If you turned them down, that was the end of things. I think we've passed that time. Back when if the "wrong" skiers made criteria, the coaches were actually pissed off at having to work with them. Most often because they weren't "good enough" to make the team as teens, and elected to go to college. We could fill a decent sized room with that group.

    Levi SL. Six male US starters. Four have been dropped at least once from the Team. Is that strange?
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  7. Primoz

    Primoz Out on the slopes Skier

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    Actually @Muleski most of techs won't go with racer. It's sort of complicated thing though. In alpine, techs for best athletes are paid by ski companies, so they basically have nothing to do with ski team. It goes to such extend that on most of WC races, Rossi techs are in same hotel even if their racers are from Italy, France, or Norway, while Fischer techs are also all together in same hotel (and in same wax rooms). So info between let's say Innerhofer's serviceman and Fill's serviceman about waxes, structures etc. don't flow (ok wrong sample as these two guys are actually good friends, but you get the point). So once system is set this way, companies don't like people who follow their racer and switch companies. They tolerate this as long as racer is top of the top like it was case with my good friend and Bode's serviceman who was following him from Rossi to Fischer, Atomic and Head (did I miss any company inbetween? :) ), but once Bode was done, he has pretty much only option to be tech in some national team as pool serviceman. As I wrote, companies don't like that, as with racer goes "just" name, but with tech goes technology and knowledge. And noone like if you bring knowledge to your competitor.
    So most of tech paid by ski companies stay with company once racer leaves. My really good friend was Ligety's serviceman before, and Ligety was asking him to follow him to Head, but he stayed (and got Inner after Ted left). With xc skiing, things are completely different, as techs are paid by national team, and even best racers have national team servicemen and not ski companies guys. Ski companies pay some extra to NT pool, but service guys are NT guys and they take care at same time for Fischer skis and for Rossi skis for example.
    Now how much tech is worth to racer? A lot. They are used to them, they are not just guys who do skis, but sometimes they are also additional dads :D So I know for certain guy who basically has no chance to stay in company but go to different racer, as his current racer has in contract, that this guy needs to be his serviceman as long as he has contract with this ski company.
    PS: Just out of curiosity... Lila is "native of Truckee, CA."? I somehow got impression she was actually born in Slovenia and they moved to USA later on, but I could be wrong and just her dad is Slovenian and she was born in US.
     
  8. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    @Primoz, too funny about Lila's "heritage." I think, truth be told, that she has dual citizenship. I say Truckee, as she grew up skiing near there, coached by Dad. I think that she was actually born in CA. Maybe she should make a change in federations? Ha!

    Thanks for adding so much to the tech topic. If I confused anybody by suggesting that a tech following a skier was "the norm", I apologize, gang. It only happens as @Primoz says, with exceptional athletes who have some huge leverage, and with techs who have no contract and CAN move {and wants to}. Keep in mind that most companies do not like losing a skier, particularly one in his/her prime or one who is contending for frequent podiums. So those guys......are rare. And the point that the tech could be shooting himself right in the foot is a good one. Things have been different with some of our techs, in the US, particularly the lower the ladder you go. We've had guys who were assistant coaches/techs and I'm not sure which role was the main one. Some of my thinking gets tainted by a lot of that.

    I can't recall who Lindsey Vonn's tech, when she was with Rossi, actually worked for. He left her before she left Rossi, BTW. Then she had a factory tech. Did he growth her to Head? No idea.

    Of course Ilka Stuhec bringing her mom as her tech had some unique blood involved. Was she employed by Rossi, and now Stockli, or by the team? Or not? Doesn't matter. It's a pretty cool story.

    That's great stuff ^^^^. Thanks. @Primoz!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  9. Primoz

    Primoz Out on the slopes Skier

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    For Lindsey I have no idea either, but Heinz was always with Head. Back in days when Robi was still with Bode and on Head, Robi was SL/GS tech, and Heinz was Bode's DH/SG tech. After that he went to Lindsey. But I have no idea who was her tech back on Rossi.
    As far as Ilka's mom goes, she was never paid neither by Rossi nor by Stoeckli. When Ilka was still on Rossi, she wasn't ranked high enough to have Rossi tech anyway (Rossi has pretty strict conditions how far down the ladder they are paying racers). She is partly paid by Slovenian ski federation and party by Ilka's team (which comes back to ski federation, as most money comes from ski federation anyway :) This is getting pretty damn weird, as it really looks all my good friends are one way or the other in WC, but yet another good friend just got job as additional tech/assistant in her team, and he's also paid by Slovenian ski federation, so even nowadays she doesn't get much from Stoeckli, even though they were telling differently last year.
    As far as "work descriptions" of serviceman goes it all depends. If they are employed by ski company, then they take care of skis, and play everything from substitute dad forward for racer. But they don't do anything else. If they are pool servicemen from ski federation, they do pretty much everything. Taking care of skis, transporting gates up and down the hill, driving racers around, watering slopes, so if you can pick, you definitely want to be on company payrole and not ski federations payrole :)
     
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  10. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    @Primoz, I can'r believe that you wouldn't want to be out on a hill at 2AM, with a hose blasting water. Having done some of your ski work earlier, with more to do later! Haha.

    Our son was offered a job a couple of years ago with a national team {not US}. Sounded like the worst job going. Doing tech work for a bunch of younger athletes, and being "an assistant development coach", which we all know involves close to ZERO coaching, and all logistics. So, after you prep the skis, after you help water the hill, after you help feed them breakfast, then bring all these skis to the hill, oh, by the way grab those six bundles of gates for the training course. Then pull out your camera. The "bonus?", it's not a DH day, so no tree climbing with the camera! By the way get the van, load it up with this, call ahead to see if we're all set with the hotel. Get me a couple of tins of Copenhagen and more coffee, and...........OK so how much will you NOT pay me? But I'll get these nice clothes. That can be a really tough way to make a living.

    As two of his mentors said, only go the national team route when they really want you, and want you in the right job. And then, still know what you are getting into, and make sure you get paid enough.

    I heard a funny line last season. Saw a young friend who's a U16 coach, with his athletes, who are all age-group wise pretty exceptional. They all have multiple pairs of skis with them, on the hill. The coach jokes as one kid unstraps a pair, then another and sets them both on the snow: "Hey, do you even know what the base of these skis look like? Like what color they are?" Turns out that they are in a program with a few techs, and none do they own skis. That is just WRONG, in my opinion. Wrong in so many ways. He agrees and gives the kids a hard time constantly.

    I know who Lindsey's tech was back in the Rossi day before he and Thomas could no longer deal with each other. He had been with her since she was about 14. Maybe started at 13. He then was out of the business for a couple of years, missed it, and was eventually back teching for a very good academy group. Much easier on the body. Good guy.
     
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  11. Alexzn

    Alexzn Ski Squaw Skier

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    Best of luck to Lila in the upcoming season, and big props to CLIF for coming through for her.
     
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  12. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Boy, oh boy, I don't tend to eat Clif Bars, but this makes me want to buy a case of them.
     
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  13. HardDaysNight

    HardDaysNight Putting on skis Skier

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    Lila was born in Incline Village, NV near Tahoe. Her dad, Vojko, is Slovenian and she has dual citizenship. Probably not a bad idea given the puzzling indifference of the USST/USSA to a competitor of her caliber.

    I will admit that I had high hopes that Shaw would be able to galvanize that large and somewhat unhinged organization. Perhaps he still might. At least, well paid though he is at $450,000 a year, he’s not like his predecessor who never lifted his snout from the trough even to draw breath.
     
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  14. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Paging @otto to the white courtesy phone.
     
  15. Muleski

    Muleski Making fresh tracks Industry Insider

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    So this is hardly critical! Was she born in Truckee, and raised/lives in Incline? I keep seeing al sorts of biographies that show a birthplace of Truckee. Could be a good battle between the two .

    Kind of like Burke versus SSCV claiming Mikeala as their own. Both?

    I have no real issue with Tiger's compensation if he delivers. That's the key. If he performs and this thing gets straightened out, fine by me. That compensation is not really out of line. There was a post on here recently that showed his compensation as being a great deal less, and I almost responded that you need to add all of his cash comp from ALL of the affiliated entities. I think $450-500K is right.

    Of course he also has a couple of cars, flies by charter or first class, has a nice deferred comp plan.

    If he can drive up the revenue, all good. The compensation numbers for some others are, IME, high. Particularly based on the size and scope of things.

    Yes, this is awesome to see Cliff Bar making this move. I hope she does very well. Any word on training partners. Pace is a key part of training.

    BTW, her dad has a great deal of experience.

    Excited about this! Go Lila!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  16. Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    Umm spell checker gotcha there @Muleski....
     
  17. Pdub

    Pdub formerly hirustler Skier

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    Go Lila! She was the only US racer who signed every last helmet and coat at Killington last year. She spent 5 minutes chatting with my kids, to their absolute delight. We will always root for Lila, she's got a great attitude.

    IMG_2448.JPG
     
  18. Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    Buying Clif bars instead of other junk tomorrow
     
  19. HardDaysNight

    HardDaysNight Putting on skis Skier

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    I agree with you Muleski that his compensation isn’t out of line - if he delivers. Delivering, however, requires that specific and concrete plans be developed, sold to sponsors and then executed against measurable results. It’s early days for him and we’ll see. I’m a sceptical guy and when I see “rebranding” exercises passed off as actual achievements, I wonder whether the boss has the background and the gumption to take the tough decisions really necessary to transform the organization. And that, certainly, is what’s required if the US is to be anything other than a second tier player. Not that we’re curing cancer here anyway!
     
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  20. ScotsSkier

    ScotsSkier USSA Coach Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    Correct, beat me to it. She is from Incline Village, NV. May have been born at the hospital in Truckee but she and her mom and dad live here. She skied at Diamond Peak then supposedly spent a year at Sugar bowl although as I understand that was more of just an affiliation.

    Funny you posted this MS. I was just speaking with her and her dad and her new coach when they were working out at the rec center last week!. Her coach is actually a Brit, ??? Ward (cant remember his first name!!), but not one I knew of before. EDIT: correction, this was her fitness coach!

    The owner of Clifbar, Gary Ericsson is a first class guy. He races with us in far West masters and is a decent racer himself (although his real passion is cycling, which is what led him to develop Clifbars as he wanted a protein/carb bar that didn't taste like the bottom of a parrots cage!!!!). Nice guy and he puts a lot of other support behind young athletes in the FWM scholarship program and elsewhere which he doesn't necessarily shout about, as well as being Travis Ganong's helmet sponsor. Very understated and ordinary guy (also owns Clif family winery) and wish we had more like him supporting the sport.

    Hope Lila can break through again this season. She got badly let down by USST at the Squaw world cup races last year when they didn't give her a start in the GS, even though they had open spots. Really bad choice when she was on home ground and with a chance to help support and attract sponsors..... Her dad was a top class racer and coach as well and likes to be heavily involved. This may be a mixed blessing tho ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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