By Jake Bright
Minnesota’s Welch Village will host NASTAR’s regional Midwest Championships Feb. 27 to 28. Hundreds of alpine racers of varying ages and abilities will have the chance to compare themselves to peers and former U.S. Ski Team Olympian AJ Kitt during two days of head to head competition.
Welch Village expects up to 250 racers over the weekend. "We are really excited to host NASTAR’s Midwest Championships,” says resort representative Amy Schaffer. “The event energizes our racing community and the entire resort.”
A 40-minute drive from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Welch Village will offer competitors live music, raffles, gift bags, prizes and an awards party — not to mention Team Races — to bring everyone together. “NASTAR is such an inclusive program and gets so many involved across different age groups and ski backgrounds,” says Schaffer. “The Championships also has a lot going on on the side in terms of fun activities.” Tim Mahoney will pay music during après ski. See a preview at www.timmahoney.com.
Traffic on Welch Village’s public race course certainly indicates a high level of enthusiasm. Last season, the family-owned resort had 8,165 NASTAR runs by 2,667 racers, according to Schaffer.
One of those racers was 8-year-old Auden Pankonin from Hudson, Wis. The Welch Village regular, who participated in NASTAR Nationals’ 2015 at Snowmass and won NASTAR’s #WhatMakesAChamp contest, was also selected to compete at his home mountain in the platinum division. “My goal is to have fun and get on the podium,” Auden told SkiRacing.com.
Competitors who win their divisions at the Midwest Championships earn a spot in the Race of Champions — a raw-time race that crowns the fastest NASTAR overall Midwest champion.
For participants looking to experience group competition, the Welch Village NASTAR Midwest Alpine Championships will offer a Team Race Sunday with family and friends divisions.
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