U.S. Ski & Snowboard Mourns Passing of NASTAR Founder John Fry

The ski industry lost one of its most treasured pioneers and founder of NASTAR with the passing of John Fry over the weekend. A longtime supporter of the U.S. Ski Team and ski racing, he is also credited with starting the Nations Cup to recognize the top country each season in the sport.


Fry was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1995.


Fry devoted much of his life to ski journalism, serving on the staffs of SKI LIFE, SKI, Snow Country, Skiing Heritage (now Skiing History), and Ski Area Management (SAM) Magazine. His in-depth knowledge and unparalleled passion for skiing brought the sport to life through the thousands of pages he created over his lengthy career.


However, John’s passion for the sport of skiing also ran far beyond the written word as evidenced by his creation of NASTAR (National Standard Racing) in 1969 when he was editor-in-chief of SKI Magazine. He was driven by the idea of creating in skiing the equivalent of par in golf. He adapted the French percentage-of-time system to a program he called the “National Standard Race,” using the acronym NASTAR that we all know today.


The nationwide recreational alpine racing series has engaged thousands of resort visitors for decades, and continues to embrace the passion for alpine ski racing under the management of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Fry also developed the Nations Cup of alpine skiing, ranking the worlds’ national ski teams based on World Cup points.


“John’s legacy and passion for ski racing will live on through NASTAR, where many U.S. ski racers first enjoyed their taste of the sport,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “He set the bar for commitment to skiing and ski racing as both a journalist, and visionary.”


Born Jan. 22, 1930, in Montreal, Canada, John took up skiing at age six. He attended high school at Lower Canada College (class of 1947) and was a member of its championship ski team. At McGill University he raced for the Red Birds Ski Club and earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1951.


In1972, he served as editorial director of Outdoor Life, SKI and GOLF. In 1965 he married Marlies Strillinger. In the summer of 1987, The New York Times Co. retained Fry to create a new magazine, Snow Country. When the magazine debuted in January 1988, he became the full-time editor-in-chief. Snow Country attained a circulation of 450,000.


He retired from The New York Times Co. in 1999 and returned to SKI as a contributing editor. He remained an active contributor at Skiing History magazine until his untimely death on Jan. 24, 2020, two days after celebrating his 90th birthday with his wife Marlies in Puerto Rico.


John is survived by his wife of 55 years, Marlies; their daughter, Nicole Fry; his children by Ann Lyons, the sculptor Leslie Fry and William Fry; and grandchildren Sarah and Emily Fry.


A memorial will be set for a later date.