During his years as a coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in the 1980s, Ken Brenner never hesitated to utter his opinion about unfair conditions during a ski race.
But after several years of telling race officials how it should be done, the longtime coach decided to take a different approach.
"I felt like I could accomplish more as a technical delegate than I was accomplishing by complaining all the time," Brenner said.
A technical delegate is the person responsible for making sure a ski race is run safely and that all the rules are followed in accordance with the sponsoring organization's goals. There are different levels of delegates in the sport of skiing, the highest level being the International Skiing Federation, or FIS.
Since becoming a delegate, Brenner has officiated about 150 races in the U.S. Skiing Association's Rocky Mountain Division.
During that time, he has been training to move to the FIS level. Two weeks ago, during a ceremony in Kelowna, British Columbia, Brenner and fellow Steamboat Springs resident Roger Perricone earned their technical delegate badges from FIS.
It's a goal the men have been focused on for the past three years, and a process that has taken much longer to complete.
"It's a 10-year process," Perricone said. "You start at the local level and just keep working your way up. It's after that you get to make the jump to the FIS level."
Perricone, the competitive services manager for the Steamboat Ski Area, said working his way up has been a natural progression.
He already was setting up races as part of his job at the ski area, and he attended a large number of RMD races while watching his children, Lisa and Gaspar, compete.
"Steamboat is a Mecca for technical delegates," Perricone said.
There are 50 FIS Alpine technical delegates active in the United States, and Steamboat is home for five of them.
"That's more than some countries," delegate Esther DelliQuadri said. "I think (the reason we have so many delegates) has to do with the makeup of the community, Steamboat's skiing history and the people who get involved with the local programs."
Brenner and Perricone are the latest additions to the list of delegates from Steamboat. DelliQuadri received her FIS badge in 1997, Roy Powell earned his in 1995 and Rick Poolin was named a delegate in 1993.
Steamboat's Glen Jones and Mike Symalla are FIS judges for ski jumping, but there are only three to four Nordic jumping technical delegates in the United States and none of them reside in Steamboat.
The two new Alpine delegates will begin work at lower-level FIS races in the region as they begin the process of making their way through the FIS pecking order.
Technical delegates are assigned to events based on a seniority-based bidding process. The delegates at the top of the list tend to work NorAm, World Cup and Olympic events. Those with less experience must wait for their shot to move up the ladder.
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