Wrapped up my second trip to Nationals yesterday. As with my first trip to Nationals, my group had a number of close competitors and one guy who clearly didn't belong in our group. My big reason for coming out to Nationals this year was that Tag Jr. also qualified, so we felt that we should take advantage of this as we don't often manage to both qualify. Other than a loooonnnng delay getting the first race started (bad timer - took over 40 minutes to get it fixed), the racing was fun, my fellow racers great to hang with while waiting for our turn to race, and the weather was spectacular. I managed to improve a bit from my first Nationals, finishing 4th this year from 6th two years ago. Needed about .2 seconds to climb to third. Would say that I only managed one race that felt like I was close to racing well technically speaking, other three races were mediocre at best. Kinda raises a philosophical debate - if I work at improving my technique, to the point where I am consistently getting gold, rather than the silver with a few golds, chances are I won't be qualifying for Nationals again anytime soon - would have to go from just getting gold to just getting platinum to get to the top of the gold division at my home hill. Our first day, we had a really technical course set for us. Very challenging for us amateurs. Everyone in my group was complaining about it. Funny to hear even the 'pro's' also complain about it that evening at the apres-ski event. Saturday's course was much more akin to the typical NASTAR courses we usually ski (dropped 5 seconds from my time on Friday to my time on Saturday).
I heard a rumor that NASTAR's contract with Winter Park is up this year. The rumor I heard is that Winter Park, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Park City are all in the running to host the next year's Nationals. Any one hear something like that ? Wouldn't bother me to see it moved somewhere else. I thought that Winter Park did a good job from the racing side of the event, but I am not a fan of the ski area, nor the base "village". Would like somewhere where the free skiing is better than WP. Any unofficial votes for the location for next year's event?
As for the debate here about qualifying, any handicap system can be jobbed, from the GHIN system for golfers, to NASTAR's system. While I'm not crazy about the guy in my group that was three seconds faster than the rest of us, nor was my son happy with the man in his group who had similar results, I still had an enjoyable two days of racing. Like golf, I can only control what I'm doing out there, and my falling short of the podium this year certainly wasn't the fault of the NASTAR handicap system.