Snowmass, Colorado played host to another great event as recreational racers from 40 states convened to compete against their peers in their ability group. The National Championships provides amateur racers with an opportunity to race for a National title against people with similar skill levels. The NASTAR system ranks racers based on their ability and the handicap system provides every winner with an opportunity to become the overall Nature Valley NASTAR National Champion.
The weather did not look promising going into the first day of competition as light snow and rain covered the Spider Sabich Race Arena, but as the skies cleared the temperature dropped and we had great racing condition for the remainder of the event.
After the first day of competition there were 17 competitors that skied fast enough to get bumped up to a new division. The bump awards were presented on the main stage Thursday afternoon following a great concert by Pigeons Playing Pin Pong. The bump awards represent the athletes that show the most improvement from the qualification deadline to the National Championships. Click here to review the list of racers that were bump up to a new division.
Day two saw the junior racers start in the morning and the adult racers started in the afternoon. We use an alternating schedule so that everyone has an opportunity to sleep late and or race early. The races were run quickly and efficiently so there was plenty of time for participants and guests to explore the more than 3,300 acres that make up Snowmass.
After the races everyone headed to the base village to listen to the music of Kevin Heinz before the awards presentation and reception. The Resort Team awards started the action and it was great to see that 75 NASTAR Resorts were represented. It is always hard to beat the home team, and for the second year in a row Aspen Mountain won the Resort Team Competition.
Awards were presented top three in each age and ability group and the winners were invited to compete in the Race of Champions. The most memorable winners were Doris Jones in the ladies 80-84 age group who was awarded Pauline’s Cup and James Cooper Black who was presented with the Jerry Taylor memorial award for winning the always competitive 75-79 platinum division.
The Race of Champions kicked off day three of the event and the ladies with the highest handicaps raced the course first. The time for each racer is divided by their handicap to get their discounted time. The handicapped format provides exciting competition as every racer has an opportunity to win. When the first racer stops in the finish area they climb on top of the podium until a racer with a faster discounted time bumps them to second place. This process continues until the last racer, with the lowest handicap, races the course. This year, Jeanette Saylor came into the race with the lowest handicap but she was unable to bump the 6-7 silver division champion, Sienna Solomons, off the podium and Sienna held on for the win and became the Overall Nature Valley NASTAR National Champion. Payton Schneckloth grabbed the silver medal Lacie Greenwald took third.
The podium for the fastest raw time featured two of the same players as Payton Schneckloth earned the win ahead of Lacie Greenwald and Tina Smon won the bronze medal.
After the ladies were presented with their awards we dove right into the men’s Race of Champions. Four year old Alexander Freidheim was the first racer on course and he climbed right onto top of the podium and he spent a long time there before getting bumped to second. Alexander was then bumped to third before finally getting bumped off the podium by faster discounted times. Still, he enjoyed his time in the spot light. When the final racer crossed the finish, Steven Coulter, had record the lowest discounted time and earned the overall Nature Valley NASTAR National Championship title for the second time (Steven also won the RoC in 2008). Ethan Miller grabbed the silver medal and Sam Jaeger took the bronze.
The race for the fastest raw time saw Sam Jaeger standing on top of the podium in first place and the silver medal hung around the neck of Jack Caturia and Matt Johnson took the bronze.
Racers in the Combined Divisions lined up next for their Race of Champions. The combined division racers include snowboarders, telemarkers and adaptive racers. The ladies raced first and telemarker Emily Mires grabbed the win ahead of adaptive racer Lauren Jackson and Lyta Foulk used her smooth telemark style to win the bronze. The race for the fastest raw time shuffled the podium slightly with Lyta Foulk recording the fastest time ahead of Emily Mires and Lauren Jackson earned the bronze medal.
The guys combined division competed next and when the snow settled after the last racer crossed the finish it was the adaptive racer, Chris Berns, taking the win ahead of telemarker Tom DeGroff and snowboarder Everett McEwan. The race for the fastest time saw Everett move to the top of the podium as he laid down a run that was very impressive. Chris Berns had the second fastest raw time and snowboarder Phillip Pennell won the bronze medal.
The Family Team Race and the Friends Team race were the next events on the agenda Saturday afternoon. The Family Team Race was divided up into teams with two generations and three generations racing. Fresh off his third place podium in the Race of Champions, Matt Johnson teamed up with his kids to narrowly defeat the Foster family for the win. Only three thousands of a team point separated the two family teams and the Riniker Family was not far behind to take third place.
The three generation family team race drew the most excitement as there are few sports where we can compete on a team with our parents and our kids. There was some confusion with the results as six year old Claire Supercznski was left off the team when the awards were presented. However, with Claire included on the team, The Superczynski Family edged out Zanier Zingers for the win and the Mika family took third.
There was a lot of trash talking before the Friends Team Race as new friends and old friends got together to form teams that would score the four highest point gainers. Teams could have a maximum of eight racers but only four racers scoring the most team points are used to score the teams. AJ Kitt, Casey Puckett and Heidi Voelker were heavily recruited heading into the race but the Welch Kids from Welch Village, MN didn’t need a pacesetter to take the win. They scored 9.947 team points out of a possible 10 take the win ahead of the Barradudas, (a mix of racers from FL, NC, VA & CO), which scored 9.928 team points. The Tray Gang grabbed the bronze medal ahead of Fast Friends in forth and the seasoned team of Bamboo Bashers in fifth.
Team awards were presented on the main stage just before the Dirty Dozen Brass Band took the stage.
The NASTAR Slalom competition was the final race of the event on Sunday and the stubby gate slalom produced some great skiing and riding. The adults raced in the morning on hard fast snow and the juniors competed just as the snow was starting to soften. Awards were presented in the finish area immediately following each race.
We are already looking forward to the 2016 NASTAR National Championships. Stay tuned for more information.