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Pacesetting is the glue that holds the Nature Valley NASTAR program together.
aj 2014

Ted Ligety is the NASTAR National Pacesetter and he is the Zero Handicap or Par Time that is NASTAR's National Standard. Ted set the standard and established the zero handicap at the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships. Each NASTAR resort has a staff of pacesetters and it is their job to represent Ted Legity and the National Standard when they set the Par Time for a NASTAR race.

NASTAR stands for the NAtional STAndard Race and Ted is the Standard that all participants compete against when they race Nature Valley NASTAR. Each time a participant races NASTAR they earn a handicap which represents the difference between their race time and Ted's time expressed as a percentage. It's easier than it sounds - if a participant earns a 15 handicap, they are 15% behind the Par Time or Ted Ligety's time. The NASTAR handicap is a gauge that represents each participant's ability and racers can watch their rankings advance as their skills improve and they lower their handicap throughout the season.

Because Ted is racing on the World Cup circuit, former U.S. Ski Team star and four-time Olympian, AJ Kitt represents Ted as Nature Valley NASTAR's Traveling Pacesetter. AJ earned his handicap racing against Ted at the Nationals Championships and AJ will use his handicap to set the par time for Ted at seven Regional Pacesetting Trials across the country. At these events resort pacesetters earn Certified NASTAR Handicaps so they can set the Par Time at their Nature Valley NASTAR course and in turn give each participant that races at their resort a handicap.


Pacesetter Handicaps

Pacesetters earn three certified NASTAR Handicaps at the Regional Pacesetting Trials.

  1. Coat: The lowest handicap earned during the first race will serve as the pacesetter's "coat" handicap. Pacesetters must wear their coat & warm-ups or regular work clothes for the first race. When pacesetters set the Par Time at their resort wearing their warm-ups or regular work clothes, they must use their "coat" handicap.
  2. Suit: The lowest handicap earned during the second race will determine each pacesetter's "suit" handicap. Pacesetters are allowed to wear racing suits for the second race. When pacesetters set the Par Time at their resort wearing a racing suit, they must use their "suit" handicap (race handicaps are generally 4% faster than dressed handicaps).
  3. Slalom: We have added NASTAR slalom with stubby gates. There are no equipment requirements.

Re-handicapping Pacesetters

It is not uncommon for pacesetters to get faster during the season. Pacesetters can "re-handicap" if they feel they are skiing faster than they did at the Regional Pacesetting Trials. Pacesetters can re-handicap by racing against other pacesetters with certified handicaps of 15 or lower. In addition, pacesetters that earn a National Average Handicap that is lower than the handicap they earned at the pacesetting trials can apply for a handicap review. The pacesetter or their NASTAR Coordinator can request to have their handicap reviewed for an update. Pacesetters that need to rehandicap on one day need to take a minimum of three race runs but more runs can be taken. The three lowest handicaps are added and divided by three to establish a new pacesetting handicap. All re-handicapping requests MUST be approved by NASTAR. Pacesetters cannot lower their handicap by racing against a par time that they set.

Handicapping Resort Pacesetters

Resort Pacesetters that did not attend the Regional Pacesetting Trials can earn a certified pacesetting handicap by racing against a pacesetter with a certified handicap of 15 or lower. After three NASTAR race days the competitor will earn a National Average Handicap and that handicap can be reviewed for certification. A request must be sent to to have the competitor's handicap reviewed for certification. Pacesetters that need to earn a certified handicap on one day need to take a minimum of three race runs against a certified pacesetter. The three lowest handicaps are averaged to establish a pacesetting handicap. All results must be posted to and handicapping requests MUST be approved by NASTAR. 

Proactive Pacesetting

Pacesetters must set the Par Time on their course by racing at the same pace as they did when they earned their pacesetting handicap. Handicaps should not be announced until the Par Time is set accurately. If the Pacesetter makes a mistake while racing to set the Par Time, he/she must race again to accurately set the Par Time. Public Nature Valley NASTAR courses that are open for long periods of time can experience diverse course conditions. When course conditions are variable, pacesetters should continually test the Par Time. If a pacesetter can earn a handicap that is two points lower than their pacesetting handicap, the course is getting faster and a new Par Time should be set. In addition, if the course gets slower and the pacesetter cannot earn a handicap that is within two points of their pacesetting handicap, a new Par Time should be set.

Example: Joe Fast is a pacesetter with a handicap of 10. Six inches of new snow fell the night before the race, and even though the hill has been groomed the course is still soft. Joe Fast pacesets the course and posts a time of 25.00 seconds. With his handicap of 10, the Par Time is 22.72. After 30 people race the course Joe Fast slides into the start to test the Par Time. Joe feels his skis sliding much faster across the snow and posts a time of 24.25, which earns him a handicap of 6.73. The timer deletes Joe's time from the race, opens a new race and enters Joe as the Pacesetter with a time of 24.25. Later in the day the course is rutted and icy but the race is only scheduled to run for 45 minutes more so resetting doesn't make sense. Joe Fast races again but he can only post a time of 26.00 seconds with a handicap of 17.96. The timer creates a new race and enters Joe as the Pacesetter with a time of 26.00.

Participants will be more likely to take reruns when they feel they have a fair chance at winning earning an accurate handicap and medal. It is the race staff's responsibility to keep the guests informed and to let them know why the pacesetter is racing again.

Reactive Pacesetting

If a participant in any Nature Valley NASTAR race beats the Par Time, this means the resort pacesetter has not accurately set the Par Time for the course. Negative handicaps are not accepted within the NASTAR Handicap System because it is generally accepted that Nature Valley NASTAR participants are not capable of beating the National Pacesetter. If a racer beats the Par Time the NASTAR Coordinator has three options.

  1. The Pacesetter can race the course again and attempt to lower the Par Time by skiing the course faster.
  2. If the Pacesetter cannot lower the Par Time to eliminate the negative handicap, the racer that beat the Par Time must be inserted as the pacesetter. The racer's handicap must be looked up online at and the racer is inserted manually as the pacesetter.
  3. Post the race to with the negative handicap and tell your guests that NASTAR will make an adjustment to the results. If a race is posted on with a negative handicap the race will be recalculated using the fastest racer as the pacesetter for the race. The racer that beat the Par Time is inserted as the pacesetter and his/her NASTAR National Average Handicap is used to set the Par Time. If the participant does not have a National Average Handicap, the racer's Resort Ranking Handicap will be used to set the Par Time. This process must be followed to maintain the integrity of the National Standard, the National Pacesetter and the Nature Valley NASTAR program.