Originally Posted by BootDude
Sorry if I took the wrong way, I would call Nastar more GS than SL for sure, but the Nastar courses are kind of their own animal, they are not set along any FIS guidlines to my knowlage.
NASTAR courses are GS courses, using GS gates, but they are (much, much) shorter than FIS standard GS courses, and are generally set rythmically with few technical challenges and no delay gates. They are generally set on hills that are not extremely steep (but check out Durango's short course.) The Ski Taos NASTAR course is a little longer than most, but pretty typical otherwise in that it's pretty flat. (Way flatter than most of the terrain at Taos!)
The one day I skied the NASTAR course at Taos, last year, they had the gates not particularly offset until late in the course, so the fastest way to ski it was to run most of the course in high tuck turns, brushing all the gates, until popping out of the tuck a couple of turns from the end. Which meant lots of gate contact at considerable speed.
Lots of resorts have NASTAR racing clinics--there's an excellent one at Vail, where recreational skiers can get a couple of hours of gate training, with pointers, at a reasonable price, without the intimidation of sharing a clinic with masters and junior racers that are twice as fast. (There's even a poma lift at Vail alongside the course, so you can run a lot of gates in two hours.)
Iluvatomic, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience (and sorry you felt beat up on here.) GS racing suits typically have padding in the shoulders to protect the racers, but you still get impressive bruises if you hit the gates with the front of your shoulder. Many very good racers have a more subtle technique with the inside shoulder forward at gate clear, just brushing it. Subtlety, elegance, fast feet, a consistently early line, and feel for the snow are not my strong suits, (aggressiveness is) so I collect bruises, because that's one way to make up time.
In general, as long as you ski an early line, completing your turn at gate clear, and as long as you leave yourself enough room so that your line is pointing across the hill correctly (you're not diving in, going too direct, or pinching your line to avoid wrong-siding the gate and thus not finishing your turn) the closer to the gate that you ski, the faster you'll finish. If you look at top racers (like Daron Rahlves and A.J. Kitt, pacesetters at last year's NASTAR Nationals) they hit practically every gate.
That having been said, any instructor should look at what the student is actually doing, and the typical problem of NASTAR racers is not that they fail to hit the gate, but that they don't ski an early enough line. If you tell someone skiing a low line to hit the gates, they just go even more direct (straight and late) making the line worse, not better.