I’m a devoted NASTAR lover and wonder: Does anyone else get the impression that NASTAR is dying? I do, and here’s why:
First, spent my ski vacation in Wyoming.
Result: No NASTAR anywhere in the Teton mountain range. Not at Snow King (the Jackson town hill), not at Grand Targhee on the west side of the Tetons, and no longer available at Jackson Hole, where I got hooked on NASTAR after one exhilarating gold medal run. In fact, there are no NASTAR courses anywhere in Wyoming at all.
Second, over the last two months, from Denver, Colorado, I’ve made a concerted effort to race and qualify for the NASTAR National Championships.
Result: I haven’t been able to run a single gate.
• Ski Cooper: NASTAR closed because they were running a Rocky Mountain Masters downhill.
• Copper Mountain: NASTAR closed because the entire hill (Copperopolis) was being used by out-of-town race clubs.
• And most recently, at Winter Park: NASTAR closed to the general public because two well-to-do groups rented out the course for their private use.
• Of course, courtesy of Vail Resorts Management Company: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado - NASTAR no longer available.
I first thought NASTAR might be having problems around 2012 when I was training at Keystone and they closed the course to the general public after a group of local porn stars rented out the course for the afternoon. Sure enough, the Vail resorts consortium closed ALL their mountains to NASTAR the next season, offering their money-grubbing copycat alternative.
Now, I’m even more concerned that NASTAR is in trouble because the whole world—from Disneyland, to Water World, to Elitch Gardens, to the few remaining resorts near Denver that support NASTAR—seem to be catering to the wealthy.
You might think I’m the most offended by being bumped by a group of porn stars. No, they get screwed over like the rest of us. And sharing the only viable racing venue with expert racers (at Ski Cooper, for example) while frustrating, is understandable in my book. We’re all in this together. Share and share alike. But at Copper Mountain, they could have run NASTAR safely (roping the course off like they usually do). Instead, they just ignored NASTAR, and let the half dozen racing clubs tear down the hill without any safety precautions whatsoever.
No, what’s really pissing me off is using America’s only viable citizen’s recreational racing program for profit and for the exclusive use of a few wealthy individuals and well-healed groups… like they do at Winter Park.
On one hand, I suspect I’ve had a bit of bad luck trying to race NASTAR and qualifying for the National Championships this year. On the other hand, only one person had qualified for a national ranking and only three people had a state ranking in my NASTAR age/category the last time I checked…in the state of Colorado, the capital of ski country USA.
Perhaps my outrage can best be summarized and explained by the Winter Park course marshal who broadcast, “Sorry, NASTAR IS NOT OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC!” Or perhaps best expressed by the ski instructor who told his 10-12 little charges, “Sorry kids, we can’t race today because NASTAR IS BEING RESERVED FOR SPECIAL PEOPLE.”