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How NASTAR Changed My Life

How NASTAR Changed My Life

“Winning a NASTAR National Championship taught me not only to be a better ski racer, but also a better man,” writes Ethan Miller in an impassioned letter. Read what else the Colorado State student has to say.
Ethan Miller


My name is Ethan Miller and I am a sophomore at Colorado State University. I was born in Las Vegas but grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., until 2007.

In 2007, my dad relocated his company to Denver, and that was my first ever experience with snow and when I first fell in love with the sport of skiing.

That same year we noticed these NASTAR racecourses across several of the mountains we would frequently visit. With the competitive itch I inherited from my father, I began racing my dad every time we would go skiing on these NASTAR courses.

After becoming frequents at the Keystone, Breckenridge, and Winter Park NASTAR courses, we were told about the grandest event of them all, the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships.

In 2008 my dad and I both decided to pursue National Championships and would frequently check the website over and over to see where we ranked and what times we needed to get the following day.

My dad blew his time out of the water and easily qualified as a platinum racer, and I unfortunately didn't qualify as a gold racer, but ended up getting a discretionary qualification and competed alongside my dad at the 2008 NASTAR National Championships in Steamboat.

That year I finished in dead last in my age category and my dad finished second to last in his. But for once it wasn't all about our competitive itch — we were just having a great time spending time with each other and hundreds of other people who had the very same passion we had for ski racing.

So we decided we would compete again the following year for another fun weekend of events. This time around, I managed to get 14th out of 19th and my dad had the exact same results as the year before. But again, we didn't care — we were just having the times of our lives.

The following year I had experienced my largest age division jump up and went from pulling golds consistently to bronzes. I competed at the 2010 National Championship as a bronze racer and walked away with the bronze medal — satisfying moment I’ll never forget.

The following year my mom would drive me up to Winter Park on just about every other weekend and I would lap the NASTAR course all day long. Without receiving any coaching, I started to get there before they set up the course to watch the course pacesetter run the course so I could see the fastest way to go about it. I would strive everyday to get a tenth faster or finally hit my first gate. This carried on into Nationals. I qualified a silver racer this time around but pulled my first ever platinum on the first day of competition and fell under the bump rule, showing how much I had really grew through the duration of that season.

Unfortunately, while skiing down Lower Hughes to attempting on 135 cm Atomic rental skis with the wrong DIN settings, I pre-ejected on both runs as my skis. The following offseason my dad purchased my first-ever race ski, 155 cm Head slalom skis.

That season at NASTAR Nationals, I started off Day 1 on Lower Hughes as a gold division racer and had my best finish ever getting second — an insane feat I didn't think I could have ever accomplished.

Then the following season was the only Nationals I ever missed as both of my parents were out of town and I had no way to get up to them or stay.

But the following season I finally made it to Snowmass and in the gold division pulled my first-ever National Championship. To top it all off my dad won for his first-ever time, as well, winning the silver division.

Last season, I managed to win back-to-back (which wasn't hard, since I was the only one) and finished second overall in the Race of Champions. My dad and I used to deliberately plan to go home early on Race of Champions day, since we didn’t think we’d ever earn a spot.

But there I was, standing on the podium when the last racer came down.

I guess the summary of this story is that NASTAR meant and still means so much to me — a skier who just likes to go ski fast and race his dad and who, over time and many laps through various NASTAR courses, was able to get second in the Race of Champions.

I didn't have the help of any professional coaches like most racers my age, but I grew so much with NASTAR and loved it so much. Some of the ski racers on club teams used to tease me for racing in Nationals saying it was for terrible skiers and wasn't a real event, but I’ve never been apart of something more genuine and real. Winning a NASTAR National Championship taught me not only to be a better ski racer, but also a better man and helped me truly dive in depth with one of the greatest passions in my life. I will forever be grateful for NASTAR.

Ethan Miller