When I was a 3 event skier, Nationals was the highlight of my season. If I had one really good ride out of three, I was pretty happy. Dad paid for all of it so cost and time away from work was an unknown idea.
Fast-forward 20+ years => I am a slalom skier with a corporate day job, a web site, and a family. Every year I am asked why I am not going to go to Regionals or Nationals. The answer is easy. I am not going to spend that amount of time and money for one ride. I simply do not see the appeal. It does not sound fun. (Let the hate mail start.)
Additional background: at this point in my skiing career I do not have snowballs chance in hell of getting on the podium at Nationals. That is not the problem. I am clear about where I am in the pecking order of 55k skiers. When I ski in a tournament I am skiing against my own expectations and the National rankings list. I want a certified / official score I am proud of.
Other side of the coin => Every other year or so I go to a BigDawg. I get 2 rounds and sometimes there is a class C on Sunday so I get 2 or 3 more rounds. If I can help it I never miss the California ProAM. Generally, I only get 2 rides but I can ski that event without missing more than one day of work. In both of these examples I get a few rides and have a lot of fun with a lot less time away from work and less total cost. I get my ass kicked by more than a pass in both examples but I have a good time and get high quality rounds.
My proposal is a 3 day (or at worst 4 day) 3 round State Championships, a 3 day 3 round Regionals and then a 3 day 3 round Nationals. To ski the State Champs you need to be at USAWS level “whatever” to keep the size of the event manageable. To ski Regionals you must finish on the top 5(+-) from your State Champs. To ski Nationals you need to be top 5(+-) from Regionals.
This way Nationals is a small manageable FUN elite event. Regionals is a small manageable FUN event. State Champs would far less expensive for skiers of all levels. State Champs is that inclusive event for a much wider range of skill sets.
What about three event skiers? Any skier can ski up to 3 times total per tournament (Pick and Choose). If you are qualified in all three events you choose what to do => you get only 3 pulls total. The tradition of 3 event should not be the albatross around the neck of the sport.
Last thing=> Before someone cries that I am elitist. Under this proposal it is pretty unlikely that I would make it to Nationals and to get to Regionals might require me to go all Tonya Harding on Larson, Matt Brown and Bishop.