NASTAR’s Golden An­niver­sary

SKI - - CLINIC -

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

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