2011 Sierra Avalanche Ski-Orienteering Championships

Nine Days, Seven Events, Six Venues in the Sierras

Date: Jan. 29 - Feb. 6, 2011
Location: Lake Tahoe Area
Event Director: - 650.793.8764
Course Setters: Neil Hunt, Julie Raymond, Damian Swift, Denise Kowal
Type: Ski-O; Nine days, seven events, six venues in the Sierras

Table of contents
Please note that fees and time limits apply, unless otherwise mentioned below. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

Information will be added over time, so be sure to check back here from time to time.

If you want to help publicize this event, you can distribute this flier (PDF/316KB).

Registration is open for these events — see below for details.

January 19, 2011 Note:

Today is the last day to pre-register for the Sierra Ski-O Champs. Pre-registration provides a few discounts, so if you know that you are going, send in your pre-registration today. If you cannot sign up now, you can still sign up each event day that you attend the championships. To pre-register, go to the Registration section below.
Remember, this event includes two new maps for Royal Gorge and Bear Valley. Both have 5-meter contours and GPS-generated trails for far greater accuracy. The ASC map is also being updated by Greg Walker, so that one will have even greater accuracy as well.
Looking forward to seeing everybody in a little over a week from now.
Tony Pinkham
BAOC Ski-O Coordinator

January 4, 2011 Note:

Although you can preregister through at least the middle of January, there are no longer any earlybird discounts on your orienteering fees. If you pre-register though, you still qualify for at least the trail pass discounts offered by Tahoe Donner Cross Country.
NEW: The last event will be both the final championship event and a relay event. The course that you do will count as a regular course for your championship points. Additionally, if you form a team with another person, your time also counts for your team's relay score. Details to follow.
Remember to let the registrar know if you can volunteer at our events. We need help at all tasks. If you want to volunteer for a full day, you qualify for volunteer credits (if you have enough competition days).
Tony Pinkham
BAOC Ski-O Coordinator



The location names are links to pages for the individual events.

  Date    Day         Location                Director          Course Setters
  Jan 29  Saturday    Bear Valley XC          Tony Pinkham      Neil Hunt, Julie Raymond
  Jan 30  Sunday      Bear Valley XC          Tony Pinkham      Damian Swift
  Feb 1   Tuesday     Tahoe Donner XC         Tony Pinkham      Denise Kowal, Bob Baylor
  Feb 2   Wednesday   Northstar XC            Tony Pinkham      Donatas Ereminas
  Feb 4   Friday      Royal Gorge XC          Tony Pinkham      Brenda Giese
  Feb 5   Saturday    Tahoe Cross Country     Tony Pinkham      Greg Walker
  Feb 6   Sunday      Auburn Ski Club (ASC)   Tony Pinkham      Ken Walker, Sr.
Note: If you are bringing participants under 18 years of age to the Auburn Ski Club event, you must have a parent or legal guardian sign this release form (PDF/64KB) for the minor to compete.

Sierra Avalanche Ski-O Championships

Like an avalanche, the Sierra Ski-O Championships happen all at once. We have 7 ski-orienteering events at 6 venues in 9 days. Each day, you accumulate points based on your performance compared to the winner of your competitive class. At the end of the championships, the three people of each class with the most points are given first, second, and third place medals. Everybody who attends all 7 events gets a special magnetic "I DID IT ALL" award, which they can proudly display on their refrigerators, cars, or other metal surfaces.

Note: This is described as a "championship" event, but you do not need to be competitive to enter. "Recreational" entries are very welcome.

To qualify for these championships, all that you need to do is complete one course for your competitive gender/age class. To better your chances of winning, it helps to get the best times and to attend as many events as possible. If you cannot attend all of the events, we do award credits that keep you in the competition at a level representative of your competitive performance. Volunteers who have to skip a competition because of their volunteer activity get a credit equal to their top competitive score (or second highest score for their second volunteer credit). Anyone who is absent gets an absence credit that is 90 percent of their average competitive/volunteer scores (yes, there is an advantage in competing every day). You cannot claim more credits than the days that you compete in any competitive class (if you compete three [or more] days, you get a maximum of three credits). You get to compete in one competitive class per event. We apply your volunteer credits to your final score before we calculate your absence credits.

As an example, if you compete in three events in the M–21+ class, and one event in the M40+ class, and volunteer for one event, you get one volunteer credit equal to your top score for the class you apply that credit to, and two absence credits that you can use in either class so long as there are never more credits applied than competitive events for a class. When a volunteer or absence credit is applied to a class, its value is determined from the competitive scores for that class. Although it sometimes works to your advantage to compete in more than one class, we don't recommend doing that in most cases, because it can dilute your competitive advantage in other classes.

The championship scoring for each event is handled as follows:

Your event score is the winner's time divided by your time, multiplied by 1000. If you win for your class, you get 1000 points. If you take twice as long as the winner, you get 500 points.
Your event score is your control points divided by the winner's points, multiplied by 1000. Typically, you get 5 points per control found, but you can lose points for being overtime. If two or more people find the same number of controls, the points given for the last control are prorated by a competitor's time compared to the winner.

If two or more people are tied for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, we break the tie by comparing these competitors as follows:

  1. Comparing their performance at their last common course at this championships.
  2. Comparing their last scores.

If two are tied, the winner gets a trivial score (typically 0.1 point) added to their overall score. If three are tied, the winner gets a double trivial point value (typically 0.2) added to his or her score, and the second-place person gets a trivial point value (typically 0.1) added to his or her score.

New this year: If you fail to complete a course for DNF, OVT, MSP, or some other reason of incompletion (other than sporting withdrawal), you get a score of zero (0). We used to offer 25 points in such cases, but this rule is inconsistent with our other multi-day event scoring schemes, so we've dropped the 25-point rule. If you have a sporting withdrawal, with the event director's approval (not easy to get unless you truly were helping a severely injured person), you get a volunteer credit for the day. Anybody who is disqualified for cheating, being disruptive to the event or resort, or is purposely way overtime when they knew to finish by 2:30, can receive 0 points at the discretion of the event director (this option has never been used so far).


If you preregister for this event, you qualify for discounts. Deadlines for these registrations are January 3 and January 19. You can also register after January 19 by registering at the events without any discounts. To preregister, fill out the registration form (PDF/284KB–revised 1/1/11) and mail it, with a check for the amount of money owed, to Alan Houser at the address shown on the form.

Each person needs to fill out a separate registration form. If you are competing as a team of two or more people, each person on your team must fill out and sign a separate registration form — each person pays the required amount for the trail passes, but for the orienteering fee the oldest person on the team pays the full orienteering fee (each other person on the team pays $2 [adults] or $1 [juniors]). If you register as a member of a team for one or more days, you must race as a team or re-register as a single competitor.

Parents shadowing their children do not need to pay orienteering fees for that event, but they still need a trail pass, which they can get through our registration or purchasing separately through the ski resort. This assumes that the child or team of children being shadowed does their own navigation without adult competitive help — the adult is there for safety reasons, not competitive reasons.


You can cancel without penalty before the first event day (January 29, 2011). That is, if you cancel early, all of your money spent on trail passes, orienteering fees, and rentals will be reimbursed. If you cancel on the day of the event, we can typically refund all of your money, but might not be able to get money back for your trail pass. In that case, you get your orienteering fees and rental fees refunded. Typically, we can get your trail pass fee refunded from the resort, but we never promise this.

If you fail to show up without any notice, do not expect a refund (we need you to notify us to make the refund happen). If an event is canceled for any reason, all fees for that event are refunded to competitors (assuming that the resort refunds our trail passes — we never seem to have a problem with that).

Unless you hear from us that we have canceled an event, figure that the event will occur (sometimes we extend starts when driving conditions are bad)—if the resort is open and trails are groomed, we typically run our events even in snow storms. If you leave us your cell phone or contact phone number, we can notify you of an event closure (assuming that we have cell phone coverage).

Competitive Classes and Awards

We award medals to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place single finishers (teams do not qualify, but shadowed youngsters do qualify) in each fully competitive class. The fully competitive classes are as follows:

Note: The Amazon class has been discontinuted to bring our classes into compliance with the OUSA class structure.

(Ages are based on 2011 minus your birth year — that is, without regard to your birth month and day. A minus sign indicates the age shown and younger. A plus sign indicates the age shown and older.)

The other classes (F-White, F-Orange, F-Green, M-White, M-Orange, M-Green, and M-Red) are reserved for teams and those racing on courses that are easier than the one assigned to their gender/age group. Mixed-gender teams are assigned to the male class for the course they race on. These classes do not receive medals, but they do get bragging rights for life. If you race on the course assigned to your gender/age group, you are automatically in the fully competitive class (see above) for that course.

Our biggest award (by size) goes to everyone who competes or volunteers at all of our championship events for the year. That means attending all seven of our competitions (or fewer if one or more events is canceled). This is the "I DID IT ALL" refrigerator magnet. In past years, this was a 4" x 6" award, definitely our biggest award.


All of our events are planned to include E-punching. This enables us to more fully utilize a smaller area at our ski-O venues. You must have a SPORTident E-card (E-punch stick) to compete on our courses. If you do not have an E-card, you may rent one for the event for $3 per day (or arrange to rent one for one or more events in this championship series). When you finish using your rented E-card, turn it in when you download for the last event in your rental agreement.

Be sure to tie your E-card to your wrist or body. All of our rental E-cards have lanyards for you to tie them to your wrist or around your neck. This minimizes the chance that the E-card falls off your finger. When you are wearing ski gloves, you cannot feel an E-card slipping off your finger—the lanyard keeps the E-card attached to you. When people don't use lanyards at ski-O events, they typically lose their E-cards. If you lose a rental E-card, you must replace it.

If you're not familiar with the use of E-punching, see our User's Guide to Electronic Punching.

If you punch in at an electronic control box that doesn't beep or flash its red LED, use the attached hole punch to punch your map to verify that you visited that control.


All starts are scheduled on a first-come-first-serve basis between 10 AM and 12:30 PM. There are no pre-assigned start times. If you are caught in traffic and will be cutting it close to 12:30, call the event director (Tony Pinkham at 650-793-8764). Late starts can be accommodated so long as you finish by 2:30 PM (we have to start cleaning up at that time so that we can finish by the time the resort closes). It is easier to accommodate late starts for shorter courses than for longer courses.

Play it safe and plan to arrive at the resort between 9 and 10 AM. Typically, the best starting conditions are early in the morning. An early arrival means not cutting it close when you encounter traffic or weather problems that slow down your commute. If the conditions are not to your liking early on, you can always wait until 12:30 at the latest for better conditions. If you are driving up on a competition day when it is snowing, expect that there will be major traffic delays and leave very early!

When you arrive at the starting area, give your name to the starter to receive a start time, then wait for the starter to call you up (or watch the clock at the starting area). You will be called up a couple minutes early so that you can insert your map into your map holder. You can look at your map at that time, but you cannot communicate any map or course information to others outside the starting box. When your time arrives, punch the START control and begin your course. Do not delay your start (the official at the start has the right to disqualify you for the event), as this provides you a competitive advantage over others and gets in the way of other competitors waiting to start (delays caused by obnoxious map holders and stormy weather are easily excepted).


The following rules apply to ski-orienteering events:


Bring your own water. Typically, there is water at the Start/Finish area, but we do not put water on the course because it freezes and cannot be used or transported after that happens. Many people wear CamelBak packs for quick easy access to water while skiing.


Food is typically available for purchase near the Start/Finish or registration/E-punch areas. At Bear Valley, you can ski a half mile to the trail cafe. Tahoe Donner, Royal Gorge, Northstar, Tahoe XC, and ASC have lodge cafes with limited food choices. If you want to save money, grocery shop for your food and leave it by registration while you ski. We are happy to let you store your things by registration or E-punch, but we take no responsibility for lost items (including those buried in snow storms).


We love to have volunteers help us. We need help with publicity, course setting, sign posting, beginner clinics, registration, results, starts and finishes, E-punch, and control pickup. If you can help on one or more of your competitive days, please let know before the events begin (we also accept drop-in help on each event day, but volunteer credits are typically not given then). If you arrange ahead of time to work an entire day, you will get a volunteer credit equal to your top competitive score for the championships (or second highest score for a second volunteer day). The first 10 volunteers who speak up get to stay in the volunteers cabin at Bear Valley (typically about $35 a night) and at Soda Springs (typically about $15–20 a night) for Lake Tahoe. For Lake Tahoe, we get our usual cabin for five nights then move across the street for the remaining two nights (sorry about this inconvenience). For Bear Valley, we will get a cabin and will let everyone know the details (still working out the details—the Nordic Loft is partially rented out, so we will use another cabin and have a potential nice deal coming up for that—stay tuned for information).


Volunteers can stay at our volunteer cabins at Bear Valley and Serene Lakes (for the Lake Tahoe events). This year at Serene Lakes/Norden, we get our usual lodge for the first five nights (1/30 to 2/4), then move across the street for the nights of 2/4 and 2/5. For Bear Valley, we will be staying at the PowderBears Log Cabin near the starts area. The more people who stay in each cabin, the lower our nightly rent. At least one place (the Belcastro cabin) offers a refund for its security deposit (if we don't damage anything).

Note: The volunteer cabins are full. (Jan. 22, 2010)

                                                   Belcastro Family Cabin
  PowderBears Log Cabin    Senna Cabin             Norden (2117 Donner)
  Bear Valley              Norden (2114 Donner)    2/4 to 2/6
  1/28 to 1/30             1/30 to 2/4             $42 to $60/night
  $22 to $30/night         $12 to $20/night        (up to $10/night refund)
  ---------------------    --------------------    ------------------------
   1. Tony P.               1. Tony P.              1. Tony P.
   2. Nancy L.              2. Nancy L.             2. Nancy L.
   3. Sharon C.             3. Sharon C.            3. Kathleen K.
   4. Doug B.               4. Doug B.              4. Doug B.
   5. Shirley               5. Shirley              5. Shirley
   6. Bob B.                6. Kathleen K.          6. Sharon C.
   7. Mary M.               7. Dan G. (Tues-)       7. Dan G.
   8. Vicki W.              8. Damian               8. Damian
   9. Kathleen K.           9. Wife                 9. Wife
  10. Rosemary J.          10. 2 kids              10. 2 kids
  Currently $22/night      Currently $13/night     Currently $44 ($60/night
                                                   less $16 refund/night)

Note on cancellations: Should you need to cancel your reservation, we ask that you still pay your portion of the rent to an amount that keeps everybody else's rent in the ranges stated above. This prevents anyone (especially the person who arranged for the cabin rentals) from having too great a burden of the rent to pay. If a replacement can be found for your time, your obligation to pay the rent will be removed. If everyone cancels and we are able to cancel the rent of the cabin, all obligations for that cabin will be removed. Otherwise, we are each responsible for our portion of the rent.

Bear Valley


Driving Conditions and Chain Requirements

For the current driving conditions and chain requirements, see this website (http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist3/departments/mtce/controlmp.htm).

If it is snowing, you'll probably have an R-1 or R-2 condition — highways usually close before they go to R-3 conditions.

If you do not have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive car, definitely bring or buy chains — even if you have a rental car. If you do not have chains/all-wheel-drive/four-wheel-drive, you can easily get in an accident, be stranded, and/or block other cars when a storm hits — and then you won't have any way of getting help or chains.

If you are renting a car and do not want to get chains, definitely get an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive car with snow-tread tires.

Please take these measures even if you don't do it for snow conditions in other areas of the country. These Sierra requirements are strictly enforced, and they make for a fun and safe ski trip for everybody.