By Jake Bright
It takes hard work to get to NASTAR National Championships, but it takes volunteer work to make this annual event possible. Here at Steamboat Resort, a dedicated crew is donating time to everything from registration and start gates to the distribution of gifts and prizes.
According to NASTAR Director Bill Madsen, Nationals wouldn’t happen without volunteers. “We have so much volume that we overwhelm race departments,” he says. “Race departments are great at handling races of up to 200 people, but when you get to 1,000, you need more hands.”
Volunteers, says Madsen, are on the job from Day 1 and throughout the week. “As we’re prepping for registration we have around 10 volunteers a day,” he reports. “Once we get into competition on the hill we have closer to 40 to 50, doing everything from writing times on scoreboards, to doing course maintenance, to starters, assistant starters, and announcers.”
Where do the volunteers come from? “They’re are a mix of everything across the board,” says Madsen. “Community members who are willing to help, and we’ve had ski clubs, Elks clubs — any number of groups come out and help us out.”
At NASTAR’s registration room at the Steamboat Grand Hotel, I observed a group of 10 volunteers pack gift bags, organize snacks, and assemble racer welcome packets.
Hilda Patton and Patty Loeper came out to help from Pennsylvania. Both became involved in Nationals through their husbands, who operate NASTAR’s timing systems. Patton says she enjoys the energy from the racers and competition. In addition to assisting with registration, she manages the timing boards at the bottom of courses. Patton’s favorite parts about being a NASTAR volunteer include “seeing the excitement of the athletes and their families and just being involved with such a great event,” she told me while packing gift bags.
Patton’s friend Patty Loeper compared volunteering for NASTAR to planning for a wedding. “I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to unfold,” she told me while unpacking boxes of Nature Valley granola bars. “Behind the scenes there’s a lot that goes into this, and somehow it all comes together.”
For more exclusive snowsport content, visit the Premium section of SkiRacing.com: http://www.skiracing.com/premium