Snowshoe Size Recommendations (March 2002)

Hi folks,
Okay! Here we go! I think I have collected all
the reposnses I'm going to from the surface area study
results I emailed out to you all a number of weeks
ago. People are clamoring to put this issue to rest,
so, already looking forward to next season, we are
going to start the closure process.
I received responses from five folks. As you
might have guessed, two 'camps' have emerged. There
are those who wish to see a simple length x width
standard, keeping in line with the 8" x 25"
'unofficial' official standard which has been around
for about 15-20 years. Everyone wants to see the
'simplicity' remain as part of the allure of this
sport. A ss needs to be a ss, used to keep you afloat
in deep powder. We want our racing to reflect ss'ing,
not simply running on ss's. I don't think anyone
argues with this pov. An 8" x 25" ss seems adequate
for most any racer to handle, male or female. It's a
good 'compromise' shoe that functions well on packed
trails and deep powder. So, one camp seems to like the
L x W approach.
The other camp sees surface area as an integral
part in defining what should be a legal racing ss.
Why? Some ss's that are not 8" x 25" have more surface
area than ss's that reach the 8" x 25" standard. So,
we really have to agree that a ss smaller than 8" x
25" is still a ss, allowing the user adequate enough
surface area to stay afloat in deep powder.
Now, the next part in this puzzle is the concern
that we don't want to make so specific a standard that
we limit the industries ability to explore and
experiment with different designs, materials etc.
Obviously, with our sport at this stage in its
development, we do not want to purposefully exclude
anyone from the playing field. So, our dilemma is to
come up with a standard that everyone agrees holds
true to our desire to be snowshoe racing and yet
affords us all the ability to conduct events with some
degree of consistency and uniformity.
I will digress for just a moment. One question
that has been posed is how will we educate the public
to whatever standard we put into effect? We will ask
the ss manufacturer's to put the surface area
measurements on the ss or on the tag that the retail
shopper sees on the ss. I do not see this as difficult
for the manufacturers to do, and have, in fact, been
told by one ss manufacturer they are in the process of
doing this now for next season. Also, the USSSA can
provide a label or logo which will show that
particular model of racing ss is approved for USSSA
competition. The USSSA will also publish a list of
'sanctioned' ss's so race directors will not have to
worry about trying to figure out the surfae area of a
racers ss at the race site.
So, where does that bring us? The recommendations
that have come back to me from you USSSA reps include;
1. a minimum based on surface area only of 120 square
inches. Any ss with 120 or more sq. inches of surface
area would be legal.
2. another recommendation was a surface area minimum
of 140 sq. inches.
3. another was to go with the 8" x 25" length x width
standard, that has been in use by a number of us, the
USSSA included, for a number of seasons.
4. I would like to add my recommendation, since I have
been the one person privy to everyone's input. I think
we need to have a standard that takes a 'compromise'
position between the two camps. Obviously ss's smaller
than 8" x 25" have been shown to have as much if not
more surface area than some 8" x 25" ss's. Yet, we
don't want ss's to be so small that they really don't
fit the category of a true ss. I suggest we consider
the following as our Size Standard:
5. SS's that have at least 125 square inches of
surface area AND measure at least 8" x 21" would be
'sanctioned' by the USSSA. The 125 sq. inches provides
manufacturers with a little room to be creative, and
the 8" x 21" maintains our desire to see everyone
racing on a real snowshoe and not some little
contraption that snaps on your running shoe. Lastly,
this standard would keep everyone 'in the game' which
is critical at this time in our development.

Well, there you have it. These are the
recommendations that have been made in response to
this information. If anyone can come up with something
better that is not included here, notify me
immediately. It is March 30th. Please notify me by
Friday April 19th, where you and your constituents
stand on this issue. I will assemble the responses and
the USSSA will announce its decision on this issue by
Wednesday April 24th.

I will be sending this email to all USSSA
Regional Reps. I will also be forwarding it along to
others to update them as to where the USSSA stands in
resolving this issue. As always, thank you for your
assistance in this effort. I think we are nearly at
the end of the tunnel. I trust we will be able to come
to a resolution everyone can work with. It may mot be
your first preference, but I trust you'll appreciate
the effort we all have put forth in an honest attempt
to appropriately address this issue. Thanks again.

Mark Elmore
USSSA Sports Director