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NASTAR Pacesetter and Olympian Cary Adgate Leaps Into the Course

NASTAR Pacesetter and Olympian Cary Adgate Leaps Into the Course

Cary Adgate was one of NASTAR’s original customers. Now the two-time Olympian is a NASTAR pacesetter and one if the race program’s biggest fans.
Cary Adgate

By Peggy Shinn

Cary Adgate was one of NASTAR’s original customers. Now the two-time Olympian is a NASTAR pacesetter and one if the race program’s biggest fans.

Before he competed in two Olympic Winter Games, raced World Cup and the Pro Tour, Adgate raced through the NASTAR gates as a teenager at Boyne Mountain, his home ski area in Michigan. He doesn’t remember the exact date — SKI Magazine and its editor, John Fry, introduced NASTAR in the U.S. in 1968. But Adgate does remember that he beat Othmar Schneider. The slalom gold medalist at the 1952 Olympic Games, Schneider was Boyne’s ski school director at the time.

“Othmar was past his career, but I’m guessing he was maybe in his early 40s,” says Adgate, 62, who is now Boyne’s ski ambassador and program director of Boyne Racing.

“That was way back when being in your 40s was really, really old,” he adds with a laugh.

Adgate went on to make the U.S. Ski Team in 1974, competed in slalom and GS at the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, and scored nine top-10 finishes in World Cup races. Back problems forced him to retire from the USST in 1981. He began pro racing instead — where he could train when his back felt good and take time off when it didn’t. He still managed to win 25 pro races and in 1984 was named U.S. Professional Ski Racer of the Year.

Shortly after he started racing the Pro Tour, Adgate participated in a NASTAR pacesetting trial, along with a few of his pro teammates. He won the trial and was the “zero” pacesetter for that year.

After retiring from the pro tour in 1989, Adgate stepped away from skiing. His back hurt, and it was time to move on to other adventures. He married and started a family.

Then in the early 2000s, he got his first taste of shaped skis. Able to carve without chattering, he could finally ski without back pain. He jumped into coaching and racing, winning the Al Sise Outstanding Masters Award for his performance at 2005 masters nationals.

“I really fell in love with the sport again, and I’m still sort of there,” he says.

After USSA assumed operational control of NASTAR in 2015, the organization revamped the pacesetting trials. NASTAR director Bill Madsen called Adgate and several other USST alums and invited them to the national pacesetting trials at Copper Mountain in November.

From Copper, Adgate returned to Michigan, where local pacesetters set their handicaps against his at another trial.

At Boyne, NASTAR is very popular. Kids in the race program will train in the morning, then ski NASTAR for a couple hours in the afternoon.

“It’s an awesome thing for the sport,” says Adgate, “particularly in Michigan and I’m guessing probably the whole Midwest and perhaps other areas that have small hills. We don’t have back bowls or chutes or a lot of tree skiing, and a lot of people get into racing. Racing provides a challenge.”
Adgate also thinks NASTAR is good for awareness of ski racing in the U.S.

“It creates ski racing fans and supporters,” he says. “I know a lot of the people who are skiing NASTAR, they know what place Travis Ganong got last weekend. I think without NASTAR, that wouldn’t be happening so much.”

Read more profiles of Olympians and elite racers in the Premium section of