The Schlopy Fam­ily’s NASTAR Tra­di­tion

SKI - - CLINIC -

For many fam­i­lies, the lim­it­ing fac­tors to par­tic­i­pat­ing in com­pet­i­tive ski rac­ing are time and money. Trav­el­ing to races around the coun­try, cou­pled with the as­so­ci­ated ex­penses, re­quires a huge com­mit­ment. An­other fac­tor that casts a shadow for some in­ter­ested par­tic­i­pants is ac­ces­si­bil­ity. A for­mer U.S. national team ath­lete, All-Amer­i­can and mem­ber of a ski-fam­ily pow­er­house, Fritz Schlopy has been able to of­fer his Hous­ton-based fam­ily a taste of com­pe­ti­tion on snow through NASTAR.

“Do­ing a full U.S. Ski & Snow­board race pro­gram is a lit­tle be­yond the time com­mit­ment my kids can make from Hous­ton,” ex­plains Fritz. “NASTAR fits per­fectly for us. You can jump right in, it’s quick, and you can test yourself with­out hav­ing to show up at 8 a.m. It gives us a lot of flex­i­bil­ity to pur­sue some­thing [my kids] en­joy but don’t get to do from Hous­ton.”

Fritz and his cousin Erik Schlopy, for­mer U.S. Ski Team mem­ber and three-time Olympian, grew up rac­ing in Buf­falo, N.Y., at a lo­cal hill called Kiss­ing Bridge Ski Area. Fritz’s wife and two young boys now live in Hous­ton and of­ten travel to Park City, Utah, to visit Erik’s two boys and his wife, Sum­mer San­ders, a for­mer Olympic swim­ming gold medal­ist.

NASTAR pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to con­nect mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of fam­ily and friends. Both men agree that see­ing Erik’s 71-year-old mother Marny com­pete in the NASTAR Na­tion­als fam­ily race along­side her grand­kids was a high­light for all.

“She was so ex­cited to race as a fam­ily,” says Fritz. “Here’s a wo­man who, for the last 50 years, has been sup­port­ing her kids and go­ing to races vol­un­teer­ing as a gate keeper to sup­port what Erik and I did, and this is the first time she got to ski gates her­self. It wasn’t about her fam­ily; it was about her. I got to be the per­son who cleaned her skis and in­spected the cour­ses for her. The op­por­tu­nity NASTAR pro­vides is a great way for Erik and I to give back to our fam­ily and make them feel spe­cial.”

Break­ing down bar­ri­ers by elim­i­nat­ing longterm com­mit­ment and in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity from the equa­tion, NASTAR serves as a feeder sys­tem for the Schlopys to or­gan­i­cally in­spire their fam­i­lies with the love of ski rac­ing they each de­vel­oped at an early age.

“We want them to dis­cover the sport on their own and find the love for them­selves, and they sure do love NASTAR,” says Erik. “If I pushed them into ski rac­ing early, it would have back­fired. They’re do­ing it be­cause they want to. Sum­mer and the kids got to dis­cover ski rac­ing with me, which is fun be­cause I was their team­mate and coach and gave them tips, watched and then cheered for them.”

While both Erik and Fritz’s kids are beg­ging to race more NASTAR, even San­ders has been vy­ing to get her hand­i­cap as low as she can.

“You’d think she’s 10 years old and go­ing to Dis­ney­land,” laughs Erik. “That made me happy, and the kids felt that en­ergy, and we started look­ing for­ward to NASTAR as a fam­ily.”

Erik’s kids will join the Park City Ski Team this win­ter for their first sea­son and have NASTAR to thank for pro­vid­ing a bridge into a more com­pet­i­tive arena. Even more im­por­tantly, they have the Schlopy fam­ily as a sup­port sys­tem be­hind any move they make.

“I think NASTAR has cre­ated a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to stay con­nected to a sport that they’re pas­sion­ate about,” says Fritz. “You can’t play foot­ball when you’re 50, but you can ski.”

WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP MEDAL­IST ERIK SCHLOPY (CEN­TER) AND HIS FAM­ILY CEL­E­BRATE WIN­NING THE FAM­ILY RACE AT THE 2017 NASTAR NATIONAL CHAM­PI­ONSHIPS.

SUM­MER SAN­DERS AND HER DAUGH­TER SKYE EN­JOY THE NASTAR NATIONAL CHAM­PI­ONSHIPS.

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