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The Proposal

The Proposal

Rob Danko pulled off a NASTAR first when he proposed to his girlfriend, Kristina Keener, on-stage at the 2013 Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships.
Rob Danko pulled off a NASTAR first when he proposed to his girlfriend, Kristina Keener, on-stage at the 2013 Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships.

Kristina, from Lakeland, MI, thought she was the “Grand Prize” winner during the Friday evening raffle at the National Championships. Little did she know her prize was going to be a question from her boyfriend, Rod, of “Will you marry me?”

We caught up with the two lovebirds to hear their love story and to see if Rod is keeping his promise of a warm honeymoon.

NASTAR: How long have you two been together?

Rod & Kristina: 5 ½ years

NASTAR: How did you two first meet?

Kristina: We met thru a mutual friend. I got a ride to her lake house with him, He and I became friends and did things together as friends only. Now looking back, we call it “un-dating”. Neither of us was looking for anything at the time, we just clicked.

Rod: I remember that ride. It was about an hour away. We were talking and laughing so much, I wasn’t sure if I had missed the exit on the expressway. “un-dating was nice, we were just ourselves. Jeans and a shirt, no effort to impress each other. 

NASTAR: Rod, when did you know you wanted to spend the rest of your life with Kristina?

Rod: This may sound odd, but it was after our first major argument. All of my life I have been stubborn, determined and competitive. I never give in, never give up. The thing that was really strange to me was that I found myself giving in. It didn’t matter who was right or wrong, I just didn’t want to waste any time being mad. It was more important to get back to just being together.


NASTAR: Kristina, when did you know you wanted to spend the rest of your life with Rod?

Kristina: Our first Christmas together. He bought me a beautiful ring, but the gift that won my heart was a leather bound notebook with and inscription which read “ use this book to write the story of us”. He knew I loved the movie and book “the notebook”! …….That’s when I knew.

NASTAR: What do you love most about each other?

Kristina: I love the way Rod loves me.

Rod: I love that she is like three people, my best friend, my lover and my partner. 

NASTAR: Was if hard to convince Kristina to come out to Aspen/Sonowmass for the NASTAR National Championships?

Rod: It took some doing. We went to Winter Park last year. I got my butt kicked in the silver category by both my fellow competitors and the altitude. On the way home I vowed to lose at least 40 lbs before returning to Nationals. I lost 25 but I also got bumped up to gold. We talked about waiting until 2014 so I could get in better shape. I think the fact that this year’s event was held in Aspen really helped. I love the movie “Aspen Extreme” and watch it way too often, I can quote most of the movie. We live about 4 miles from Mt. Brighton, where the film starts off. Kristina even has a cap just like the one that Dexter wears throughout the movie. So it was also fun to run around Aspen finding some of the spots from the film. Eventually I sold her on the idea that we could go each year that Nationals move someplace new. 

NASTAR: Kristina, what was going through your head when you were announced as the "grand prize" raffle winner, which was actually a proposal from Rod?

Kristina: My initial reaction was “WHAT!!!!!” I never win anything. That should have been the first clue that something  was up, too good to be true!!!

NASTAR: Rod, Where you nervous about proposing on stage in front of the NASTAR crowd?

Rod: No, not really. I had planned out what I was going to say. I was more worried about making sure it was a surprise. Thanks to you and the Nastar staff she was totally surprised, she didn’t even realize I was walking up behind her on the way to the stage.

NASTAR: Rod, why did you pick the NASTAR National Championships to propose to Kristina?

Rod: I wanted the proposal to be unique and memorable. I think she may have been disappointed between Christmas and New Years because she somehow could sense it was coming. Her birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so I couldn’t ask then….way too common. I talked with Pat Moore from the NASTAR forum, swore him to secrecy, and found that no one had proposed at nationals. So with it being a first, I contacted you. 

NASTAR: While proposing, Rod, you mentioned that you drag Kristina around to all your ski events and that if she said yes you would take her somewhere warm for the honeymoon. Have you guys decided on where that will be?

Kristina: Remember somewhere warm and sunny, Possibly St. Lucia or Grand Caymen. Wherever is good enough fro me, as long as we are together.

Rod: It was funny to hear some comments from other people at dinner that night. It was explained to us that warm and sunny could be relative. 45 and sunny is a great day for the top of Whistler in December. I don’t think Kristina found it as funny as I did!

NASTAR: Since you two got engaged at the NASTAR Nationals should we expect to see you two back every year as an engagement anniversary?

Rod: I’m in, I’m working on the next 25 lbs and I faired better in the Gold division than I thought I would.

Kristina: You never know, but knowing Rod and his NASTAR addiction, I’m sure you will see us at least a few times.

Rod: I think it’s important to note that Kristina needs to take some responsibility for my “addiction”. She cannot claim she was not warned. I skied a fair amount growing up. I was on the ski team in college. Then reality hit, bills, kids and a career no time for skiing. I hadn’t been on skis in over 20 years when I met Kristina. I think it was the second winter that I knew her, she asked me if I would like to ski with her and her son. I warned her that she might be unleashing a big pent up obsession. She laughed and figured how bad could it be. By the end of the day in jeans and a sweatshirt, sporting rental equipment, the gates drew me in. I barely got bronze, but I was hooked. She has been very supportive ever since.