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Looking For Input On NASTAR Programs

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

(Surprise surprise.  I wrote a long winded post.  I highlighted the questions I have below.  You can skip to them or read all the background data too.  Your choice.)

 

I work at Crotched Mountain and the last couple years have been involved in the NASTAR program.  There are three of us; one runs the Adult League (ARL), I do Weekend NASTAR (Daily) and the third kinds of mentors us (or at least me since I'm new to this).  The same three are in process NOW of getting a start on making the program stronger this year.  My involvement has nothing to do with my racing ability and experience but my organizational skills and ability to get things done.  I bring that up so you better understand why I'm posting here and have so many questions.

 

The mountain is at a sort of cross roads.  They are installing a Hi Speed Quad (HSQ) that will bring folks to the true Summit, which is about another 150' higher elevation, gives another 25 acres and opens up all sorts of off piste opportunities.  It will also bring back to life the trails that haven't been open since the "Old" Crotched closed down in the '90's.  The progress can be followed at CM's facebook page http://www.facebook.com/CrotchedMountain?ref=ts

 

Since so many changes are happening, we have an opportunity to improve the NASTAR program by moving some things around and getting things set right.  The past few years the ARL program has been growing but Daily has been decreasing.  Some of this is just how we've been recording everything (i.e. 2 or 3 years ago we quit entering the younger kids in race programs into the system, even though they were using the course for training).  I don't think anyone is counting last season in their numbers as we like most were chasing snow so we could get the gates in.

 

The Daily course has been a sprint course due to congestion at an intersection on the weekends.  We had to lower the Start to get below the intersection, so it has been a 16+ second PAR.  The ARL has been 23 + second PAR.  Both on the same course but different Starts.  Anyway, we think we have a plan to fix that so ARL and Daily will have the same PAR and will use the same Start and both will have the same 23+ PAR - this is still in the idea stage and hasn't been vetted with SAM but they have asked us how to fix this and have shown a willingness to support us. 

 

My main concern is with the expense of the HSQ this year, I'm expecting all requests for additional funding to be scrutinized.  So, that gets me to why I'm posting -

 

At your favorite NASTAR venue (ARL or Daily), what is it that makes it that?  Mainly I'm talking about on the mountain and not in the lodge or pub.

 

We know we have a great course.  Seasoned racers have told us what a hidden gem we have.  This past season we put on an unplanned Master's race with about a week's notice when another mountain canceled last minute.  The Master Racers all complimented us on the course (moved the Start further uphill for a 45 second course).  We also put on a planned College Race from the Summit (not the new one) and that course was about 60 seconds for the really fast.  The Masters and College Racers all loved the course and the snow.  Couldn't believe the how great the grooming was and all said it was a fun course with a nice mix of challenges and the staff received tons of compliments.

 

So we have good snow, a good course and good people.  What else do we need?

 

We have a Start House that is barely used because of the location.  We are planning on moving it so it can be used for ARL and Daily.  We have good Timing gear.  Gates and the rest aren't an issue (at least for customers).

 

Is it the convenience of it all?  We have been forced to use the main lodge for registration and with the changes are hoping to be able to register folks right at the start house.  Not being able to do this has been a thorn in everyone's side; guest and staff.

 

Are Digital displays worth it or just a nicety?  We've been announcing times over the PA.  We're mostly heard but sometimes drowned out by the music.

 

Personally, I like the idea of the Pacesetter running once opened so people know their handicap/medal right away.  It also lets us know if something has to be changed on the course for safety reasons.  This way you can make your runs and go back to the Start and get you pin and granola bar.

 

Anything else?  Crotched is a great place and people are always pleasantly surprised when they get there.  Yes we're off the beaten path and you have to drive through some small towns that seem to live off of giving out speeding tickets in their 30mph zone, but once on the mountain, all 1000' of it, you get great grooming on great trails.

 

Might as well throw in what annoys you about some NASTAR venues so we can try to not do that.

 

Thanks,

Ken

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

 

At your favorite NASTAR venue (ARL or Daily), what is it that makes it that?

I prefer regular NASTAR to beer league cause I usually ski daytime and like the idea of being able to stomp my little kids sans handicap.  Beer league seems more friendly to single folks and empty nest folks,  Not my current lifestyle though.

 

So we have good snow, a good course and good people.  What else do we need?

Music, announcer, and color commentary is always fun.  Keep giving out free Ski subscriptions too.  Maybe add a "tin" medal so everyone gets some kind of souvenir. 

 

Is it the convenience of it all?

Convenience is everything on the mountain where folks travel light.  NASTAR does well with this, tell them my name, confirm my registration with a few historical data points, then swipe my card or take my cash.  AAAAA+++ here already

 

Are Digital displays worth it or just a nicety? 

Yes, worth it.  Add the medal to the readout.  Real time online viewing on the web would also be cool.  IIRC, it takes about a day for the race results to show up online.  Would be nice for folks with little devices to be able to pull them up in the lodge an hour after the race to settle any bets.

 

Anything else?

 

 

Might as well throw in what annoys you about some NASTAR venues so we can try to not do that.

 

What annoys me most is not having up to date event info posted on resort or NASTAR websites.  It really sucks to be planning a trip (likely the only several day trip of the season) and being stoked to drop a few NASTAR runs only to find out that morning that a Big Air or USSA event has caused NASTAR to be canceled.  If there was nothing in the resort or NASTAR websites warning of the "outage" kids can be pretty disappointed :-(

 

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

 

Might as well throw in what annoys you about some NASTAR venues so we can try to not do that.

 

What annoys me most is not having up to date event info posted on resort or NASTAR websites.  It really sucks to be planning a trip (likely the only several day trip of the season) and being stoked to drop a few NASTAR runs only to find out that morning that a Big Air or USSA event has caused NASTAR to be canceled.  If there was nothing in the resort or NASTAR websites warning of the "outage" kids can be pretty disappointed :-(

 

We used to get complaints about this too so we added it to the Snow Report.  Listed with the Trails.  It does get tricky as the Snow Report is done around 0630 or 0700 and we sometimes wouldn't know if there was enough snow until we were on the trail with a drill around 10.  We didn't do it last year for some reason but most folks weren't usually expecting it except during peak season because of the lack of snow.  The regulars would know when a race event was going on there wasn't going to be nastar.  I'm hoping within another year or so to have an alternate trail for nastar when there is a race event.  Will have to show some progress first though as it would require an investment.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

You should also look at live timing at www.live-timing.com.  If the resort is participating; costs nothing and there is no waiting, you can see your results at the end of your run.  If the pacesetter has gone, you'll see your handicap too AND you can see it right on your smartphone as soon as the time stops.  You can check your time and "current" standing on the lift.

 

The 24 hour wait you mentioned is only when the resort chooses to not send the results right away.  The results can be sent to nastar as soon as the race is complete and you'll be able to see them right away.  At nastar, iirc, results are posted immediately but your status or ranking won't change until over night.  I think this is because nastar needs to make sure that all races have been completed.

 

Thanks for the feedback,

 

Ken

post #4 of 5

Ken, it sounds like you have very good program and a great attitude. 

 

I race in a Monday Night Beer League in Connecticut that is also affiliated with NASTAR.  We made the change three years ago and it has been a popular move.

 

I've run the program at Okemo for the past half dozen years and have experimented with different approaches.  Frankly, I'd like to move registration to the base lodge instead of at the start shack.  We sometimes have to keep 30+ racers waiting while we do the data entry for a family of five.  As long as you're on the same network as the base lodge, you can use NASTAR's Remote Registration program.  Scheduling a private event on the course can be annoying to the daily racers.  We try to publicize the schedule but it isn't always read before folks make the trip.

 

I don't know if you have a single or dual course but if the latter, consider setting snowboard gates or stubbies on one course.  I got the idea from Whiteface a few years ago.  It will attract more snowboard racers and novice ski racers feel less intimidated by the gates.  Here's a short video that shows them in use.  You can see the adjacent ski course.

 

 

Incidentally, moving the course from Lower Blackout to Bull Run significantly increased our traffic.  Being visible from the base lodge generated a lot more interest in the program.

 

I'd love to get up to Crotched and run your course!

 

See you at the pacesetter trials in a few months.

 

Pat

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by patmoore View Post

Ken, it sounds like you have very good program and a great attitude. 

 

I race in a Monday Night Beer League in Connecticut that is also affiliated with NASTAR.  We made the change three years ago and it has been a popular move.

 

I've run the program at Okemo for the past half dozen years and have experimented with different approaches.  Frankly, I'd like to move registration to the base lodge instead of at the start shack.  We sometimes have to keep 30+ racers waiting while we do the data entry for a family of five.  As long as you're on the same network as the base lodge, you can use NASTAR's Remote Registration program.  Scheduling a private event on the course can be annoying to the daily racers.  We try to publicize the schedule but it isn't always read before folks make the trip.

 

I don't know if you have a single or dual course but if the latter, consider setting snowboard gates or stubbies on one course.  I got the idea from Whiteface a few years ago.  It will attract more snowboard racers and novice ski racers feel less intimidated by the gates.  Here's a short video that shows them in use.  You can see the adjacent ski course.

 

 

 

Incidentally, moving the course from Lower Blackout to Bull Run significantly increased our traffic.  Being visible from the base lodge generated a lot more interest in the program.

 

I'd love to get up to Crotched and run your course!

 

See you at the pacesetter trials in a few months.

 

Pat

 

Pat,

Thanks for the input.  I like the idea of adding stubbies next to the gates.  We do get first timers in the gate that back out now and again (especially from the higher start) and this might encourage them to stay.  I'm sure it would encourage more snowboarders too.  Some of us got together a few weeks ago and I asked about the possibility of doing a slalom course next to a gs.  The explained why that wouldn't work.  We can run a dual and do for ARL but usually just run a single for weekends (Daily).  With the changes at the mountain, we might be able to pull that off.  It's usually about manpower more than space.  And of course having enough snow.

 

I've considered the fact that the timer can't run a race and input people at the same time, but that is a problem that is better than no one getting registered because the lodge is too far away.  The problem is solvable too.

 

The move we are looking at doing would put it almost under our main lift so that would be good.

 

If you're going to the pacesetter trials, you'll get an opportunity to run at Crotched.  We were told by NASTAR at the Brettonwood pacesetter trials that we would be hosting it this season!  So looking forward to it.

 

Ken

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