NASTAR Celebrates 50 Years of Racing
12.18.2017 | Nastar Editor
We've already kicked off our Golden season with a bang beginning with National Pacesetter Trials in Copper last month and now Regional Pacesetting Trials across the nation with Marco Sullivan and Daron Rahlves. This 2017-18 season actually marks 50 years of NASTAR providing an outlet for recreational skiers to experience competitive ski racing just like the pros. At NASTAR’s core is the unique handicap scoring system that gives racers the opportunity to compete against friends and family at any time without being at the same ski area. Over the last 50 years, NASTAR has fueled the grassroots ski racing scene and drawn thousands of dedicated recreational skiers to the race course.
The Last 50 Years
In 1968, Ski Magazine’s then Editor in Chief John Fry noticed a national shortcoming in the ski industry. There was a lack of organized competition outlets for recreational skiers in the United States. Recreational enthusiasts made up 95 percent of skiers at that time, and most were unfamiliar with the concept of racing. Developed with inspiration from the Chamois races in French ski schools where students compete against a time set by their instructor on the same course, NASTAR became a reality when Fry envisioned its potential in the U.S. A movement that began with eight resorts featuring NASTAR standardized races (three of which still host NASTAR to this day) has grown into a household winter tradition for many ski families over the past 50 years. Insider terminology like “flat light,” “ruts,” “starting position.” etc. are no longer words only used by elite ski racers. NASTAR athletes of all ages are able to race against each other with laughs and camaraderie all the same. “Alpine racing historically is the heart of American skiing,” notes Fry. “[Today] my hope is for the U.S. Ski Team to build and expand NASTAR as a way to identify at an early age future Bode Miller’s, Lindsey Vonn’s and Mikaela Shiffrin’s.” Through the tradition of family style racing, NASTAR is an easy gateway to get involved in the sport on the competitive level.
The Next 50 Years
What will the next 50 years of NASTAR look like? Since the program’s inception in 1968, there have been eight million NASTAR participants. Today, NASTAR is owned and operated by U.S. Ski & Snowboard which fosters a strong awareness of the program beginning at a young age in hopes to inspire families to get involved in their local racing communities. Director of NASTAR Bill Madsen’s goal is to make alpine racing accessible to the masses while using the program to support the U.S. Ski Team on its track to enhance athlete development. “I want to see kids working on skill development and racing at their home resorts rather than spending time and money traveling to competitions,” notes Madsen. “We are in the information age, and we want to provide people with information about their experience on the mountain. We are on a path to provide participants with an enhanced online experience and an improved on-mountain experience that includes exciting new technology, more disciplines and a more interesting overall race experience.” The golden year is a great opportunity to celebrate the last 50 years of NASTAR while looking ahead to the future. Join us to celebrate this year at the NASTAR National Championship this year in Squaw Valley!