NASTAR’s Golden Anniversary
The 2017-18 season marks NASTAR’s golden anniversary of providing an outlet for recreational skiers to jump in racing gates just like the pros to experience a taste of competition. At NASTAR’s core is the unique handicap scoring system that gives racers the opportunity to compete against friends and family at any time without even being at the same ski area. Over the past 50 years, NASTAR has fueled the grassroots ski-racing scene and drawn millions of dedicated recreational skiers onto the race course.
THE PAST 50 YEARS
In 1968, SKI Magazine’s then-Editor-in-Chief John Fry noticed a national shortcoming in the ski industry. There was a lack of organized competition outlets for recreational skiers in the United States. Recreational enthusiasts made up 95 percent of skiers at that time, and most were unfamiliar with the concept of racing. Inspired by the Chamois races in French ski schools where students compete against a time set by their instructor on the same course, NASTAR became a reality when Fry envisioned its potential in the United States. A movement that began with eight resorts featuring NASTAR standardized races (three of which still host NASTAR to this day) has grown into a household winter tradition for many ski families over the past 50 years. Insider terminology like “flat light,” “ruts,” “starting position,” etc. are no longer words only used by elite ski racers. NASTAR athletes of all ages are able to race against each other with laughs and camaraderie all the same. “Alpine racing historically is the heart of American skiing,” notes Fry. “[Today] my hope is for the U.S. Ski Team to build and expand NASTAR as a way to identify at an early age future Bode Millers, Lindsey Vonns and Mikaela Shiffrins.” Through the tradition of family-style racing, NASTAR is an easy gateway to get involved in the sport on the competitive level.
Fostered from the ground up with John Fry’s vision for a standardized tradition of ski racing, then U.S. Ski Team coach and television commentator Bob Beattie used his strong industry connections to encourage NASTAR’s reach across the nation as commissioner of NASTAR for over 30 years.
THE NEXT 50 YEARS
What will the next 50 years of NASTAR look like? Since the program’s inception in 1968, there have been eight million NASTAR participants. Today, NASTAR is owned and operated by U.S. Ski & Snowboard, fostering a strong awareness of the program beginning at a young age in hopes of inspiring families to get involved in their local racing communities. Director of NASTAR Bill Madsen’s goal is to make alpine racing accessible to the masses while using the program to support the U.S. Ski Team on its track to enhance athlete development beginning at a young age. “I want to see kids working on skill development and racing at their home resorts rather than spending time and money traveling to competitions,” says Madsen. “We are in the information age, and we want to provide people with information about their experience on the mountain. We are on a path to provide participants with an enhanced online experience and an improved on-mountain experience that includes exciting new technology, more disciplines, and a more interesting overall race experience.” The golden year is a great opportunity to celebrate the past 50 years of NASTAR while looking ahead to the future. Come out and race at a local resort with us this winter!
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: TROPHIES ON DISPLAY AT THE INAUGURAL NASTAR FINALS AT HEAVENLY VALLEY, CALIF., IN 1968; A SKIER RACES AT VAIL IN 1968; 3-YEAR-OLD RICKY SCHALLER RACES IN THE FIRST SEASON OF NASTAR IN 1968.
NASTAR participants will join with the International Skiing History Association to celebrate NASTAR’s 50th anniversary at ISHA’s annual awards event, March 23, 2018, in Squaw Valley’s Olympic Village Dining Hall. www.skiinghistory.org/events