So what is this NASTAR thing anyway?

So what is this NASTAR thing anyway?

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Many recreational skiers and snowboarders may not know what NASTAR is aside from seeing the logo on
slalom flags on certain runs at resorts they frequent. But there is actually a rich history
to NASTAR. Thankfully, my column sponsor Shawnee Mountain in
PA offered to help me bring light to this great program since they
have intimate experience with it. Shawnee in fact, has been
a NASTAR racing host for 30 consecutive years. In fact, they have the bragging rights of being
the longest running NASTAR site in the Pocono Mountains and eastern
PA! NASTAR is actually an acronym for NAtional STAndard Race. It
is the world’s largest grassroots recreational ski and snowboard
race program. It offers ski and snowboard racers of all ages and abilities, by way of a handicap
system, the ability to compare themselves to each other
(regardless of what resort they are at) as well as to the national champion. Since the program started in 1968,
(originally created by Ski Magazine) over 6 million NASTAR racer days
have been recorded. NASTAR is available at roughly 115 ski resorts
in North America and 1 in Australia. Many stars from the U.S. Ski Team
originally got their start ski racing in NASTAR programs. So it should come as no surprise that NASTAR is
the premier youth racing feeder program for the U.S. Ski Team.
NASTAR race courses are approximately 350 meters in length and have about 16 gates that racers must turn                    around. The fastest time possible on a NASTAR course is referred to as the Par Time or Zero Handicap. The Par
Time is set by World and Olympic Champion Ted Ligety. Each NASTAR resort must have
pacesetters with certified handicaps to set the Par Time for each NASTAR
race. The NASTAR handicap is a universal scoring system that
provides participants with a tangible number that represents their ability.
The lower the handicap, the greater the skill level. Medals can be won for
age and gender categories based on performance. The NASTAR.com
website records each participant’s stats and ranks each racer at the
host resort in their state of residence, nationally and overall.
Shawnee Mountain specifically, is well known as being one of the best
family mountains on the east coast. They have successfully integrated
NASTAR with their extremely popular weekend Junior Development
Program which has helped introduce thousands of young skiers to running
the gates and timed ski racing. But the fun is not limited to the kiddies…
Shawnee’s NASTAR program also attracts hundreds of adult
recreational ski racers each winter season. If this program is something you
are interested in or want your kids perhaps to try out, both the
development program and NASTAR Racing are offered at Shawnee every Saturday & Sunday
in January, February & early March (weather & snow conditions permitting). FYI- Shawnee’s NASTAR course
is set up on the Upper Tomahawk Trail on intermediate level terrain.

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