A Guide to Youth Ski Racing Part 2 | What Does it Cost?


Is Ski Racing Expensive?

“It would be cheaper to buy your kid a pony,” one World Cup parent warned us when our six-year-old first led us into the ski racing world.  We laughed it off, but 10 years later he sounds like the smartest guy in the room.  Yet anything worth doing comes with costs – whether dedicating time and energy in training, or selling pies to help pay for your ski equipment. 

These expenses might feel overwhelming at first.  But you’ll start to find that you are able to sell last-year’s gear to younger athletes and purchase next-year’s gear used from older athletes. Teams also have volunteer opportunities to help defray some costs, and your kids can turn their summer jobs and business ideas into cash to help pay their way. 

So, here are a few things you should know about what costs you can expect as you support your child’s racing journey.

Tuition and Fees

Team Fees

These typically cover coaching staff, space to train on a race hill or at a local resort, safety equipment such as b-net, training equipment such as gates and stubbies, and administrative costs for keeping everyone organized. Depending on how many days you sign up to train, you can expect team fees to run from $1600 to $7000 per season.

Season Passes

Depending on your team, you may need to purchase a season pass to more than one resort or training facility. For example, here in Utah many teams train at their home resort, one other resort that might offer steeper or longer terrain, and the Utah Olympic Park for gate training. Depending on how committed your family would like to be, your racer might need season passes to all three. However, many teams also offer a recreational level of training that is less demanding on time and resources.

Race Fees and Lift Tickets

Each race your child attends will require a race fee. You will also need to purchase your racer a lift ticket, often at a discount, for the resort hosting the race. Race fees are roughly $24 at the very beginner level up to $200 at the U16 level. Lift ticket costs vary by resort, but discounted racer tickets are often about $70 per day.

Travel Fees

At the U12 level and beyond, you may start to travel to overnight races.  Some teams travel together, and they may have a bundled fee for each race that includes racer travel expenses and a portion of the coaches’ travel expenses. Often, you are free to book your own travel. Keep in mind that you will need to arrive in town the night before because of how early the races start. Even if you book your own travel, you will still be required to pay your portion of the coaches’ travel costs. If all of your races are local to you, then there are no travel fees. For U14 racer on a traveling team, you might need to book 3-4 nights in a hotel, and you could expect to drive up to 6 hours for away races.

USSA License

Each racer must be licensed with the US Ski and Snowboard Association. These fees typically run around $200-300/season depending on the racer’s age.


In addition to warm and waterproof ski clothing, your racer will need specialized racing equipment.  We're not here to tell you to avoid using rental equipment altogether.  But if you are investing so much time and money into a racing program, scrimping on equipment will make it harder for your racer to improve their technique, especially beyond the YSL level.

Many people are able to find hand me down deals through ski swaps organized by their race teams, and coaches are often on hand to give advice. HOWEVER, do not trust community ski swaps. The sellers are motivated to sell and are not knowledgeable about what equipment is right for your kid.

Sometimes local shops, such as Saami Ski Shop, will work with their vendors to host race nights where local athletes can purchase race-specific equipment at a discount. These race nights usually happen in September.  The costs outlined below are typical of race night pricing; full retail costs will be higher. Helmets, goggles, pole guards, speedsuits, and boot bags can last for a few yearsif you take care of them.

Boots are critical at all levels

To be effective, race boots fit tighter than what your child may be used to.  To test this, remove the liner from the shell.  Have your child put their foot into the shell and then check that you have no more than 2-fingers of space between their heel and the back of the boot.  Also, as a general rule, the athlete's weight should be higher than the "flex index" of the boot.  Four-buckle boots are required for all racers, meaning rental boots will not be adequate.  Finally, investing in a quality footbed will increase comfort, improve performance, and reduce potential for foot damage over time.  

U8, U10 and SODA League Equipment Needs

  • At minimum, racers will need one combi racing ski.It is possible your coach will recommend your racer have two pairs of racing skis – one slalom and one GS.  
  • One all mountain free ski with binding.
  • One pair of race-specific boots.
  • Any pole will do.Some coaches might recommend adding pole guards.
  • Hard eared helmets are required.
  • Often kids are training at night, so low-light goggles are helpful.  
  • Some little racers want to have a speedsuit, which is understandable because they’re rad.But there are a lot of ways young racers can get faster before a speedsuit would make a difference. 
At race night prices with all new gear, U8 and U10 racers can expect to spend about $1400 on equipment.

    U12 Racer Equipment Needs

    • At minimum, two pairs of race skis – one slalom and one GS 
    • One pair of free skis with binding
    • One pair of race-specific boots
    • Two sets of poles – one slalom and one GS
    • One set of pole guards for slalom poles
    • Shin guards
    • Back protection for speed events
    • Hard eared helmets are required
    • Both daylight and low-light lenses are helpful
    • Speedsuits become more common at this level
    • A boot bag is very helpful
    At race night prices with all new gear, U12 racers can expect to spend about $3000-3500 on equipment.

      U14 and above Equipment Needs

      There is a significant jump in equipment requirements at this age.  Also, as your racers get taller, they may start to need adult length skis which can make a big difference in cost.

      • Five pairs of race skis are common, because racers will keep separate sets for training and for race days. Two sets of slalom skis, two sets of GS skis, and one set of Super G.  You could still get by with just one set of each type of race ski.
      • One pair of free skis with binding
      • One pair of race-specific boots
      • Two sets of poles – one slalom and one GS.
      • One set of pole guards for slalom poles
      • Back protection for speed events
      • Shin guards
      • Hard eared helmets are required
      • Having both daylight and low-light lenses is helpful. 
      • Speedsuits are required at this level
      • A boot bag is very helpful

      At race night prices with all new gear, U14 to U19 racers can expect to spend about $4500-8000 on equipment.

        Phew. Remember you won’t need to buy all of this all at once. As your child progresses through racing, you will be able to sell the old gear to pay for the new and add a little to your equipment collection year over year.  Taking good care of your gear will pay off - it will last more than one season if it still fits your racer, and you will be able to sell it for a higher price when you're done with it.

        Leave a comment (all fields required)

        Comments will be approved before showing up.

        Search our shop