Each year, after the National Pacesetting Trials takes place in mid-November, the NASTAR crew including National Pacesetters like Daron Rahlves and Marco Sullivan hit the road to tour a total of about ten different areas to host Regional Pacesetting Trials at local ski hills. What’s the goal of doing this you ask? Well, it’s simple. We bring National Pacesetters to resorts that may not otherwise have the opportunity to send their NASTAR Pacesetters to the National Pacesetting Trials. And, for pacesetters that did race at the National Pacesetting Trials, it’s still a treat to be able to hone your handicap directly against world-class athletes like Daron Rahlves and Marco Sullivan on a NASTAR course close to home. Each event includes a total of five races. Coat Races, where pacesetters earn a handicap wearing a jacket or their regular work attire. Then, pacesetters strip down to their speedsuits for the Suit Races which are used to establish race handicaps and to score each resort team. The Race of Champions is the final GS race where pacesetters race with their handicap and compete for the overall win. After a lunch break, the pacesetters race stubby gate slalom to earn pacesetting handicaps for slalom.


Team Roundtop won the Race of Champions at Roundtop
Team Roundtop won the Team Race at Roundtop Mountain Resort


The Race of Champions (ROC) is a great race because it truly embodies the essence of the handicap system that NASTAR is famous for. It's a true handicapped race where you’re using your ability level to score a discounted time. The pacesetter that can ski faster during the ROC with their handicap wins.


The tour kicked off in Squaw Valley, Marco and Daron’s local hill and home of the 2018 Liberty Mutual Insurance NASTAR Nationals. Squaw Valley coaches, masters racers and pacesetters from west coast resorts took to the NASTAR course. These racers had the opportunity to race one of the five racecourse venues that will be used for Nationals this year, lucky ducks!


Marco Sullivan at the Squaw Valley Regional Pacesetting Trials
Marco Sullivan at the Squaw Valley Regional Pacesetting Trials-(start house with a lake view)


Next stop was Mount Holly in Southern Michigan. This was the first time we had a Pacesetting Trial in that region and snow was great. Daron Rahlves stuck around after the day of pacesetting to host an evening of racing with Daron that was open to the public. Over 150 people showed up to race against the World Champion and it was a sight to see!


High school racers chase after Daron Rahlves at Mt. Holly
High school racers chase Daron Rahlves at Mt. Holly


Afton Alps brought out a good crowd of Minnesotans who wanted to try their hand against Daron. When the trials were through at Afton Alps, the crew headed to Buck Hill to check out The Ski Challenge and some night racing. If you want to read more about the Ski Challenge, check out this article on our website.


Marco Sullivan challenged the New England pacesetters at Wachusett Mountain and NASTAR crowd gunned for the tips of his tales. Wachusett Mountain has some very competitive race leagues with great participation and the resort was the number one ranked NASTAR resort last season. It was great to have a pacesetting race at the resort that hosts the most NASTAR racer days.


Hunter Mountain, New York was cold and windy during the Regional Pacesetting Trials, but the race was really fun as they have one of the best NASTAR venues in the country. The gates are set up on a nice pitch right underneath a lift that accesses the NASTAR course and the terrain park. The Race of Champions gave Masters racer, Jim Tomossetti an opportunity to set the pace and win the overall.


Team Bristol Mountain won the Team Race at Hunter Mountain
Team Bristol Mountain won the Team Race at Hunter Mountain


Roundtop Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania had seen three weeks of negative and single digit temperatures which made for great snow and the pacesetters in the Mid-Atlantic Region were excited when the temperature rose a bit for the race. The event was held as a memorial for Jeff Beinhaur who lead the Roundtop Race Department and was involved with NASTAR for most of his life.


The final stop for the east coast pacesetting trials train was Wintergreen, Virginia where ski racing is alive and well. Athletes were able to set their handicap against Marco’s and it was nothing shy of a good time.


Rocky Mountain Division pacesetters earned their handicaps on Aspen Mountain to wrap up the Pacesetting Trials tour. The Pacesetting Trials suit races are scored as a series so that pacesetters across the country can see how they compare. The goal of the Pacesetting Trials is to establish Certified Pacesetting Handicaps, but pacesetters are also ranked based on the number of NASTAR Team Points they score. The maximum number of team points that can be scored within an age and gender group is 10. There were 12 pacesetters that earned a perfect 10 and that score was also used to score points for their Resort Team.

There were two resort teams that scored a perfect 10, Caberfae, MI & Wachusett, MA. This means each team had three pacesetters score 10 team points each. 

Pacesetters are the glue that holds the NASTAR program together, so stop by your local resort and say hello to the guy or girl that is setting the time Par Time on your NASTAR course. Your pacesetter is setting the Par Time for Ted Ligety so that you can compete against an Olympic Champion every time your race NASTAR.