The Challenging and Fun World of NASTAR

October 12, 2007 by  
Filed under features

NASTAR is a racing program whereby recreational skiers can test their snow skiing skills on courses set up at more than 100 participating resorts across North America. Times and scores are recorded according to a universal handicapping system comparable to that used in golf. Irrespective of age, ability and location, skiers can compare their skills with one another as well as with the national champion, using this system to track their progress.

The concept for NASTAR was taken from the Chamois Races in France in which ski instructors are rated by percentage for the length of time that they lag behind the fastest instructor’s recorded time. The former editor-in-chief of ‘Ski Magazine’, John Fry, developed this universal handicap scoring system into a program for recreational snow ski racing to be used at ski resorts throughout the United States. Since the inception of NASTAR (National Standard Race) in 1968, more that six million skiers and snowboarders have registered, making this the largest recreational race program in the world.

Resorts that participate in NASTAR are given a certain amount of leeway in deciding where and how to set up their NASTAR venue, but generally it is visible from a lodge or high traffic lift. The decision of whether to have single or dual courses is also left to the ski resort. However there is some standardization in that each NASTAR course is basically an adapted giant slalom course with between 12 to 20 gates for racers to maneuver around. The gates must have 18 to 20 meters distance vertically between them and between 4 and 8 meters of offset. Although the appearance and feel of each race venue is different, fixed par time by the pace setter establishes standardized results, which allows participants to compare race times wherever they race.

Participants must register with NASTAR, which is at no charge and can be done online. Once registered, there is a small entry fee per race. Each race is timed electronically by use of a mechanical lever to start the clock and the stop time is registered by use of an optical beam sensor. Race results are uploaded by the ski resort to NASTAR’s database each race day, where they become publicly accessible allowing racers to view their performance history.

All recreational downhill skiers who want to challenge themselves to improve their snow skiing skills should consider registering with NASTAR and join in the fun of competing with fellow snow skiers throughout North America.