AJ Kitt had a great group of racers participate in the race clinics on Friday and those racers were well prepared going into the racing on Saturday. The weather was a little cold but racing conditions were perfect for the three year old racers and for the 80 year old veterans. The kids attacked the course in the morning and the adults took over the race venue in the afternoon with more than 450 starts recorded. Each age group was divided into two ability divisions based on their results and the top three in each age, gender and division have now qualified directly for the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships at Snowmass, CO March 21-24.
Benjamin Lodge of Cranston, RI posted the best time during the kids race recording a handicap of 8.95 and Megan Morton of Suffield, CT was the fastest among the girls with a 21 handicap. During the adult race Eric Stearns showed his speed earning a handicap of 4.38 and Meg Spenlinhauer was the fastest lady earning a 9.59 handicap. The sponsor village was busy all day long with people trying new skis from a number of manufactures and from Suburban Sports, Swix was waxing skis and everyone was snacking on Nature Valley granola bars.
The awards party kicked off with Warren Miller’s new film, “Flow State”, and then kids and adults got into position to receive their awards. Custom medals were presented to the top three racers in each age, gender and division and the first place winners were presented with an invitation to compete in the Race of Champions on Sunday. The raffle followed the awards presentation with many people in the room taking home great gifts from sponsors and Nature Valley NASTAR, but the party really started rocking when the Pete Kilpatrick Band took the stage.
Sunday morning felt more like Colorado than Vermont weather as blue skies and warming temperatures ruled the day. The Race of Champions kicked off with each winner from Saturday’s individual races inspecting the course. Each champion carried their winning handicap into the race to level the playing field and their handicap was used to calculate their discounted time. The format is really fun because everyone has an opportunity to win and many people get a chance to stand on the podium. The first racer down the course climbs on top of the podium and each successive racer tries to bump them off by posting a faster discounted time. To win the race, competitors need to race faster than they did to win their individual age group.
The ladies race started the action with the highest handicapped racers going first and the fastest racers taking the start last. Monica Meinzer grabbed an early lead but she was challenged repeatedly as the second and third place positions on the podium changed frequently. When the last racer crossed the line Monica had held on for the win with Amanda Medjid taking silver and Abby Nautel grabbing the bronze. The podium for the raw time race saw Meg Spenlinhauer take gold, Sophie Scerbin silver and Beth Utter bronze.
The men lined up next and local favorite Pat Moore was having a difficult time deciding if he should race on his snowboard or on his skis. Pat competed in both disciplines on Saturday winning both age groups and qualified to compete in the Race of Champions in both disciplines. He decided to go with the snowboard and it turned out to be a good choice as he rode his board to the top of the podium. Jonathan Van Skyhawk, also on a snowboard, grabbed second place and Lewis Brissette held on to third place to bring home the bronze. The raw time race was a battle between the young guns and the adults, and in the end it was the veteran racer from Swain Mountain, NY, Eric Stearns snatching the gold medal and the Race of Champions trophy ahead of Mike Charron and Benjamin Lodge.
With the Overall Champions crowned it was time for the final event of the weekend, the Team Race. The team race is a great culminating event because people can put together teams with new friends that they had met during the weekend. In fact, many of the teams were put together over a few adult beverages during the awards party.
The Friends Team race was the closest race of the weekend as the Grumman Ski Club tied for first with Team Wachusett Mountain. The tie should have been broken by using the score of a fourth person on each team but they were still deadlocked after adding the score of the next teat member so the two teams shared the victory and third place went to the Three Amigos.
The Family Team race saw one of the tightest competition of the weekend with Team Theodore and Team Turbo Scerbin tying for first place and Team Cole taking third place in the Family Team competition.
Congratulations to all of the winners and to all of the new friendships that were made during the event. NASTAR is a social network that embraces the camaraderie of the sport and we look forward to seeing all of you again at the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships at Aspen/Snowmass.