It’s been 50 years since the lifts began cranking at Welch Village, Minnesota, thanks to the resort’s founding by the Nelson Brothers. And from February 26 to 28, some 140 NASTAR racers celebrated the golden anniversary going for the gold during the NASTAR Midwest Championships. Then there was the great golden globe in the sky, which turned an already stellar few days even shinier. “We had a great weekend,” reported NASTAR’s Bill Madsen. “It was very warm, but the Welch crew did a great job prepping and maintaining the course and everyone was amazed how well the course held up. The temperature reached 60 degrees by the end of Saturday and with sunny skies the atmosphere was festive.”
AJ Kitt starred as the pacesetter on the Lookout trail for the junior racers in the morning, crossing the finish line in 19.50 seconds on the Yellow Course and 20.34 on the Green Course. The youngest category, Male 1-5, saw Luke Hakseth finish in 31.76 seconds on the Yellow Course; brother Noah finished in 26.15. Traveling all the way from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota were brothers Braeden and Logan Hunt in the Male 18-20 Division.
Family was the name of the game all weekend, as four Caturia kids showed up to race, along with three Molitors and three McKinneys. For the adults’ races, 19.72 on the Yellow Course and 19.45 on Green were the times to beat. Dozens of racers, from Adam Adkins to John Wothe and from Carly Bjorklund to Rosvita Wolk chased after Kitt’s time. “The Regional Championship races are a great way to prepare for the Nationals in Steamboat and it is fun to meet up with our ski racing friends,” Scott Bjornson, Welch Village racer.
On Saturday night, Tim Mahoney, who earned fame on “The Voice” entertained NASTAR families before the Awards Ceremony in the Welch Village Main Lodge. “We had a huge raffle with really nice jackets and tuning equipment, we gave away a huge box of stuff,” said Madsen. “Welch Village put out a spread for dinner, too.”
On Sunday, Feb. 28, Alexander Campian of St. Louis won the men’s division of the Race of Champions, posting an adjusted time of 19.22. His qualifying group: 5 & under Gold Division. “The Race of Champions is a great format because everyone has an opportunity to win the overall title, but I love it when the little kids win,” said Madsen. Jack Burger won 8 to 9 Platinum/Gold Division to make the finals and he went home with the silver medal in the RoC and Logan Hunt rounded out the podium in third.
The women’s Race of Champions saw Elizabeth Burger take the win after qualify for the race by winning the girls U12 Silver Division. Hannah Caturia was just four hundredths of a second from the win earning the silver medals and Ella Pattinson edged out former Nastar National overall champion Ellie Peine to take third place. Ellie did post the fastest raw time in the race followed by Alexa Kimmes and Gina Tester took the bronze for recording the third fastest net time.
The Team Races rounded out the weekend and the Family Teams raced first as the Teams of Friends scrambled to fill-out their rosters. The Caturia family showed up with both depth and speed to take the win of the Kimmes family and the Mad Molitor family in third.
The Friends Team Race was the final event of the weekend and the closest race was saved for last. The Platinum Plattipi team was made up of Welch Village junior races and the Tray Gang was made up of adult Welch Village racers. The team races are scored using NASTAR Team Points so that young and old have an opportunity to contribute to their team. The four highest point gainers on each team are used to score the team at regionals but this race was tied using four racers so a fifth racer had to be added to each team's score to break the tie. ANDREA WOJAHN scored 9.11 out of a possible ten points for the Tray Gang but Stephen Oconnor scored 9.18 team points to give the win to The Platinum Plattipi team. Third place went to a very fast group of racers that called themselves, Team Russia.
All Regional Championship participants automatically qualify for the National Championships at Steamboat, March 24-27. Registration for the Nationals is filling up fast so don't wait. Registration is limited to the first 1,000 entrants and the deadline to register is March 15th.