Pacesetting is the glue that holds the NASTAR program together.

NASTAR stands for the NAtional STAndard Race and the National Pacesetter is the Standard that all participants compete against when they race NASTAR. Each time a participant races NASTAR they earn a handicap which represents the difference between their race time and National Pacesetter's time expressed as a percentage. It's easier than it sounds - if a participant earns a 15 handicap, they are 15% behind the National Pacesetter's Par Time or Zero handicap.

The NASTAR handicap is a gauge that represents each participant's ability and racers can watch their rankings advance as their skills improve and they lower their handicap throughout the season.

The NASTAR National Pacesetter is the Zero Handicap or Par Time that is NASTAR's National Standard. NASTAR has a group of former U.S. Ski Team stars that host Regional Pacesetting Trial races where pacesetters from host resorts and clubs earn their pacesetting handicaps. The Regional Pacesetting Trials are hosted by Daron Rahlves, Andrew Weinbrect, Claire Brown and Marco Sullivan.

Each NASTAR resort must have a staff of pacesetters that earn certified pacesetting handicaps. It is the pacesetters' job to accurately represent National Standard or Par Time for each NASTAR race. When the pacesetter sets the Par Time on a NASTAR racecourse, participants can then race and earn a NASTAR handicap that represents their ability.

Handicapping Resort Pacesetters

Resort Pacesetters that did not attend the 2019-20 Regional Pacesetting Trials can earn a certified pacesetting handicap by racing against a pacesetter with a certified handicap from the 2019-20 season. After three NASTAR race days the competitor will earn a National Average Handicap and that handicap can be reviewed for certification. A request must be sent to NASTAR to have the competitor's handicap reviewed for certification.

Pacesetters that need to earn a certified handicap on one day must take a minimum of three race runs against a certified pacesetter. The three lowest handicaps are averaged to establish a pacesetting handicap. All results must be posted to and handicapping requests MUST be approved by NASTAR. 

Pacesetter Handicaps

Pacesetters earn three certified NASTAR Handicaps at the Regional Pacesetting Trials. There are different handicaps depending on what the pacesetter is wearing and for Giant Slalom and Slalom.

  • GS Coat: The lowest handicap earned during the GS Coat race will serve as the pacesetter's "Coat" handicap. Pacesetters must wear their coat & warm-ups or regular work clothes during the "Coat" race. When pacesetters set the Par Time at their resort wearing their warm-ups or regular work clothes, they must use their "Coat" handicap.

  • GS Suit: The lowest handicap earned during the GS Suit race will determine each pacesetter's "Suit" handicap. Pacesetters are allowed to wear racing suits for the GS Suit race. When pacesetters set the Par Time at their resort wearing a racing suit, they must use their "Suit" handicap (race handicaps are generally 4% faster than "coat" handicaps).

  • Slalom: NASTAR stubby gate slalom is an additional option for NASTAR resorts. Because speeds are slower in slalom races and aerodynamics play less of a roll, there are not different handicaps for pacesetters based on the clothing worn during slalom races.


Re-handicapping Pacesetters

It is not uncommon for pacesetters to get faster during the season. Pacesetters can "re-handicap" if they feel they are skiing faster than they did at the Regional Pacesetting Trials. By racing against a pacesetter with a certified pacesetting handicap, pacesetters can have their handicap reviewed for an update. If a pacesetter races against a certified pacesetter on three different days, his or her National Average Handicap can be reviewed for an update. 

Pacesetters that need to re-handicap on one day need to take a minimum of three race runs against a certified pacesetter. More runs can be taken, but the three lowest handicaps are added and divided by three to establish a new pacesetting handicap.

All re-handicapping requests MUST be approved by NASTAR. The pacesetter or their NASTAR Coordinator can request to have their handicap reviewed for an update.

Pacesetters cannot lower their handicap by racing against a par time that they set.

Proactive Pacesetting

Pacesetters must set the Par Time on their course by racing at the same pace as they did when they earned their pacesetting handicap. Handicaps should not be announced until the Par Time is set accurately. If the Pacesetter makes a mistake while racing to set the Par Time, he/she must race again to accurately set the Par Time. Public NASTAR courses that are open for long periods of time can experience diverse course conditions. When course conditions are variable, pacesetters should continually test the Par Time. If a pacesetter can earn a handicap that is two points lower than their pacesetting handicap, the course is getting faster and a new Par Time should be set. In addition, if the course gets slower and the pacesetter cannot earn a handicap that is within two points of their pacesetting handicap, a new Par Time should be set.

Example: Joe Fast is a pacesetter with a handicap of 10. Six inches of new snow fell the night before the race, and even though the hill has been groomed the course is still soft. Joe Fast pacesets the course and posts a time of 25.00 seconds. With his handicap of 10, the Par Time is 22.72. After 30 people race the course Joe Fast slides into the start to test the Par Time. Joe feels his skis sliding much faster across the snow and posts a time of 24.25, which earns him a handicap of 6.73. The timer writes down Joe's time and deletes his time from the race. The timer opens a new race and enters Joe as the Pacesetter on the Race Header with a time of 24.25. The entrants from the first race can be copied into the new race file without their times so that they don't need to be reentered in the new race. In the timing software click on the Competitors tab, click the Other button and select, "Copy Competitors from Another Race" and continue with your race. Multiple races can be posted for the same day if necessary. 

Later in the day the course is rutted and icy but the race is only scheduled to run for 45 minutes more so resetting doesn't make sense. Joe Fast races again but he can only post a time of 26.00 seconds with a handicap of 17.96. The timer creates a new race and enters Joe as the Pacesetter with a time of 26.00.

Participants will be more likely to take reruns when they feel they have a fair chance at winning earning an accurate handicap and medal. It is the race staff's responsibility to keep the guests informed and to let them know why the pacesetter is racing again.

Negative Handicaps

If a participant in any NASTAR race beats the Par Time, this means Par Time for the course is not accurate. Negative handicaps are not accepted within the NASTAR Handicap System because it is generally accepted that NASTAR participants are not capable of beating Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the National Pacesetter. If a racer beats the Par Time the NASTAR Coordinator has three options.

  • The Pacesetter can race the course again and attempt to lower the Par Time by skiing the course faster.

  • If the Pacesetter cannot lower the Par Time to eliminate the negative handicap, the racer that beat the Par Time must be inserted as the pacesetter. The racer's handicap must be looked up online at and the racer is inserted manually as the pacesetter.

  • Post the race to with the negative handicap and tell your guests that NASTAR will make an adjustment to the results. If a race is posted on with a negative handicap the race will be recalculated using the fastest racer as the pacesetter for the race. The racer that beat the Par Time is inserted as the pacesetter and his/her NASTAR National Average Handicap is used to set the Par Time. If the participant does not have a National Average Handicap, the racer's Resort Ranking Handicap will be used to set the Par Time. This process must be followed to maintain the integrity of the National Standard, the National Pacesetter and the NASTAR program.

  • The pacesetter that set the original par time should be entered into the race as a participant to show the handicap earned. The handicap earned can be reviewed to adjust the pacesetters handicap.