Each racer that wins a Nature Valley NASTAR National Championship title is invited to compete in the Race of Champions (RoC). The Race of Champions is the final event and the results determine the Overall NASTAR Champions. The fastest man and woman from the RoC win an expense paid trip to the U.S. Ski Team's Speed Center at Copper Mountain, CO. Very few ski racers ever make the U.S. Ski Team, but if you win the NASTAR National Championships like Danny Elkins, you get to be a member of the team for a week and you get a front row seat to watch the best racers in the world prepare for the Olympics thanks to Nature Valley.
Danny grew up skiing the Poconos in Pennsylvania and he visited Steamboat Springs regularly on ski vacations. He raced NASTAR as a kid with the Mack Ski Club and enjoyed the camaraderie of the club and competing against his twin brother as they challenged each other to improve their skills. "As a kid my dad would bet me money, saying 'I bet you can't go faster than your last run'. It was always nice taking his money," Danny remembers. When the NASTAR National Championships added junior age categories in 2000, Danny and his family signed up immediately. Danny has participated in every NASTAR National Championship since and NASTAR has helped define the person he is today.
After high school Danny pursued his passion for ski racing at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs. The team was always competitive finishing regularly in the top three at the USCSA college races. "Like any racers we had our good races where we placed well at nationals, and other national races where we had a few mistakes" says Danny, but he always enjoyed the races and the team environment.
Danny was such a good team member the college offered him a job after graduation as the Assistant alpine team Coach. He has held this position with Colorado Mountain College for the past four years and he has helped the school transition from a USCSA school into a NCAA division one ski racing organization. Danny's commitment to his team and to NASTAR was clear this spring. After winning the NASTAR National Championships, Danny jumped into his car and drove across the country to catch up with his team in New Jersey before heading to a race in Norway. "My life has been filled with a lot of travel and some of the best experiences I have ever had," say Danny.
Danny is on his skis about 90 days each winter but many of those days are coaching his athletes so he doesn't count them all as ski days. His schedule is so busy that he has not had an opportunity to try Masters racing but he does compete in Steamboat's Town Challenge which is filled with former college racers, masters racers and occasionally former Olympians.
Winning the trip to the U.S. Ski Team's training camp at the new speed facility at Copper Mountain, CO in November will be a great learning experience as an athlete and a coach. Danny will have the opportunity to be a part of the team and he is looking forward to being around great racers and coaches and picking up some world class knowledge.
If you think you have what it takes to win the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships, you will need to qualify before Presidents Day, February 17th and compete in the National Championships, March 25-30, 2014 at Snowmass, CO.