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NASTAR Fire on the Mountain: Eastern Regionals Recap

Nastar.com
patrick and aj

It’s 10 a.m. in the Competition Center at Okemo, and only five bib numbers remain on the registration table — that’s how excited NASTAR racers are for Eastern Championships on this blue-sky, 27-degree day.
As AJ Kitt recuperates after pacesetting, the Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” is playing, an apt tune for the turns happening up on Bull Run, where some 130 racers are spending their Saturday, Jan. 30, chasing after the par time of 18.99 and chasing after their own ambitions.
Those ambitions run small and large. Take 7-year-old Cami Blount, for example, and her sister, 5-year-old Chloe, from Sudbury, Mass., who race NASTAR simply “because it’s fun.” On the other end of the spectrum is New Hampshire’s Bob Emerson, an amputee who once raced for the U.S. Disabled Team and is looking to qualify for Nationals.
“I just have a love for the sport,” he says of two decades of racing. Still, Emerson’s known to be a sure bet on Bull Run. “I look forward to putting a medal around your neck tonight,” says NASTAR’s Kari Hoyt as she hands him his bib number.
Tonight, of course, is the awards ceremony and party in the Sitting Bull, where racers will dance to live music, dine on chicken wings and other classic après ski fare, and enjoyed a brew or two between presentations to the fastest athletes of the day. The biggest smiles will belong to the littlest tykes, who have to take an extra step or two atop the podium. It's early to bed, however, for Sunday’s line-up of the Race of Champions in the morning, and Friends and Family Team races in the afternoon.
Warm temperatures of 38 degrees welcome athletes to Bull Run on Jan. 31, where Arden Sonnenberg post the fastest discounted time in the Women’s Race of Champions, followed by Lynn Miller in second and Polly Crowninshield in third. Hannah Lord, a Granite State middle-schooler, recorded the fastest net time ahead of Kari Hoyt and Alison Hopkins in third. Single-planker Pat Moore, riding a retro Sigi Grabner snowboard, tops the podium for men’s adjusted time, flanked by Alexander Dangle and Austin Benison, who pumps his fist and criesd, “Yes!” when the last competitor crosses the finish line failing to knock him off the third step. Aaron Henderson recorded the fastest raw time for the men followed by Mike Charron in second and Rob Dexter in third place.
From 3 Strikes and Free Runs to BSZ Racers and Team Okemo, the Friends Team races sees many familiar faces, including Dangle — on Grumman Team No. 2. Found on Grumman Team No. 1 is none other than Paul Marysko, wearing his Czech Republic race suit and a big smile on his face in the finish area despite what he calls “a lousy run.” He praises the Okemo snowmaking and grooming, and compares skiing the 2016 Eastern Regionals to competing in the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter Games. “It is slightly different,” says Marysko with a shrug. “I was a little bit more nervous before!”