Pat Moore

Have you ever tried ski racing? Maybe now is the time. Resorts throughout North America offer NASTAR, the world’s largest recreational ski and snowboard racing program.

It’s not just for the young! Age groups in NASTAR run as high as 95+ and participation among us senior skiers is very high. The 70+ Ski Club participates in a popular race at Okemo Mountain in Vermont every year.

Begun in 1968, the program has seen more than five million participants. Many current and former US Team members got their start in the program.

Participation is open to everyone regardless of ability. Here’s how it works:

The system determines which medal you earn, based on age, gender and – of course – how fast you go. At each resort, there are certified Pacesetters whose performance has been measured against NASTAR’s National Pacesetter.

When the pacesetter at your course makes a run, the system factors in the difference between his/her ability and that of the National pacesetter to determine the theoretical time that the National Pacesetter would have recorded. Then, when you run the course, your personal “handicap” is calculated into the mix.

If you were 25% slower, your handicap is 25. Then according to a chart, you can earn Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals.

The thrill of winning your age group at the Nationals is felt in all medal divisions, from pre-teens to the seniors who are their grandparents.

NASTAR has a National Ranking system you can follow online and compare your progress with folks of similar ability in other parts of the country.

You don’t need to have been an accomplished racer when young! Following a 34 year hiatus from skiing, I returned to the sport (and took up snowboarding) in the winter of 1996-97 at the age of 50. It was another two years before I stumbled across Okemo’s NASTAR course and tried a run.

An older skier encouraged me to try it and then raced me head-to-head. He beat me decisively.

Over the next couple of years I made only a handful of runs,  but then caught the bug in 2004 and I attended my first National Championships at Park City, UT.

Since then,  I’ve raced on skis and snowboard at nearly every National Championship and have made many friends across the country.

I had been told by more than one person that racing improves your overall skiing and I found that to be true. Instead of turning when and where you want, the course of gates below you dictates the path you need to take. On crowded slopes, when free skiing, that skill is invaluable –  especially for us senior skiers.

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  1. Hey Pat,
    Funny piece! – I never thought of that: Go as fast as possible, down the most crowded slope, pretending everyone is a slalom pole…and just try to avoid hitting them. Brilliant!
    PS – Hey Stratton…I’m heading to Black Bear on Saturday at 11am…WATCH OUT!!!!

  2. I used to enjoy stopping at a Nastar Course at different resorts, paying $5 to see if I could beat the pacesetter or pick up a gold pin with the resort name on it. Now they make you sign up $20 for the day, down at the lodge…I’m too old now to race all day, the chatter marks that develop after a few dozen racers hurt my knees, so one run is enough, and I don’t bother any more.

  3. I ski Whitetail, no Nastar. Just went to Killington. No sign of Nastar. Who has it in the Mid-Atlantic where its worth skiing for the day?

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