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NASTAR Nationals.....?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I was just looking at the results from the nationals.

Can anyone tell me about the courses.

It looks like the handicaps of the winners were about twice what they came into the races with.

In my age group most of the platinum division skiers didn't ski platinum, nor did the gold division skiers ski gold.


Was this a FIS GS course or a NASTAR course or what?

post #2 of 15

I was not there, but I have friends who were.  The courses are of the normal NASTAR variety, but maybe a little tougher than some.  Apparently racing against Daron Rahlves is no easy task.


post #3 of 15

I was there this year, no, they weren't FIS GS.  Just a 23 or so second sprint.  Steeper than your usual NASTAR hill, and icier, ruttier, and as 4ster said, you run against the real pacesetter.  Even at that level it seemed to depend on the pacesetter though.  One course had a few 0.01 handicaps.  The Gold/Platinum courses definitely benefited those with some race background, but then again, it's nationals in the top divisions...

post #4 of 15

It's not uncommon to see handicaps go up substantially at the Nationals.  The courses (I was on Vogue) are generally steeper, turnier, and icier than typical NASTAR courses.  Bear in mind that your National HC is derived from your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fastest days over the course of the season.  At the Nationals, you're given two shots each day; one on each course against a former US team member.  I'm in Platinum division but my times at Steamboat on Friday were Gold.  On Saturday I broke my ankle on the first run so I DNF'd. 


Next year.......

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

This makes sense to me now.

In general, the turnier and scarier the course the more a pro will distinguish himself from all the amatuers.

I guess it would be embarrasing if, like at our local pacesetter trials, a bunch of local racers beat the hired gun.


Somewhere, there is a fine line here.

If people are getting hurt at the Nationals I question if this is true to the spirit of NASTAR citizen racing.

I do not race Masters precisely because I don't want to get hurt on near FIS courses.

I'm doubt that many NASTAR racers could ski bronze on the Hamenkam downhill.

The real point is that when almost everybody breaks out of their division as happened in some divisions at this year's Nationals ......the course ain't right.



post #6 of 15

You cover a couple of different topics here...  I guess my thought on the difficulty is that you want a little separation between racers due to their technical skill.  A "golf course" type run may not reward the better skier, rather just the heavier or more expensively waxed skier.  I only watched Platinum and Gold courses, and the handicaps were somewhat close to their norms (maybe +3 to +5).  And just a few guys beat the pacesetters, indicating that the courses were not way out of amateur reach, but still challenging.


Forgive me if this is all common knowledge, but I don't want people to get the wrong idea about the Nationals courses.  These are definitely not in the same category as a Master set, and are wayyy less than a FIS type set.  A typical Masters race would put two or three of the NASTAR courses end-to-end.  A FIS level course would up that difficulty level significantly.  That this leads to breaking out in a downward direction indicates that the home courses may not be challenging the National qualifiers enough, IMO. 


On injuries, I think you're going to see some injuries when you're attacking 100% no matter how easy or difficult the course.  Heck, more people would probably injure themselves in a foot race when they are going all out.  I thought this year they did a better job with course maintenance and keeping the real big ruts and slush out as much as possible.  My guess is that injuries were pretty low this year, although I don't have any numbers to back that up.


Finally, I would encourage you to try some Masters racing.  The courses aren't going to get you hurt when you ski within yourself.  The injuries happen when you go a little too far over that line of ability and training.  But, you're in control of that and can dial it back.  There's a lot of Master's racers without serious racing backgrounds who are having fun and not getting hurt. 


So overall my opinion is that it's well within the level and spirit of citizen racing.  Challenging as a National championship should be, but not too long, too fast or too scary.   For more difficulty still at an amateur level, you go to Masters Nationals and ski downhill, SG, GS and SL. 


Ski fast, take chances, and have fun!


ps - Pat, that Vogue course was really icy, probably the iciest of the front side courses.  I hope your recovery goes well. 

post #7 of 15


Originally Posted by coloskier View Post


ps - Pat, that Vogue course was really icy, probably the iciest of the front side courses.  I hope your recovery goes well. 


Thanks.  I discovered today that I probably won't need surgery.  The injury was self-inflicted.  I had already wrapped up the Snowboard title and was trying to make the podium in Skiing.  The year before I had won Boarding and Skiing (Gold Division) After Friday I was sitting in sixth place out of 17 Platinum racers in my age group and needed to make up some serious ground on one of my runs on Saturday.  On the first run I rammed a tip directly into the gate and it didn't give.  I ejected from the binding and flew over the other course.  Happily I didn't interfere with any of the racers there.  I remember flying through the air thinking "I've got one more shot at it" but got a reality check when it was too painful to click back into the binding.


All in all it was a fun event.  Doug Lewis and AJ Kitt helped me up on the podium for the snowboard awards.  Other presenters in this photo are Heidi Volker, Diann Roffe, and Phil McNichol.


 I can't wait for next year!

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I took my licks as a young man racing motorcycles and thanks to a bunch of orthopaedic surgery can still walk and ski.

NASTAR on an easy hill suits me fine because the competitive juices still flow and I'm not too likely to take another big hit which would put me out of the game.

I've been racing beer league and NASTAR for four years now and have moved from being barely able to ski gold to the dead middle of the national platinum ranks.

I'm amazed at how much about line, looking through the corner, and head position carries over from motorcycle racing.

Motorcycle racers now talk about the "carve" portion of a corner which should sound familiar to ski racers.


NASTAR is a great program but you will never see me at the nationals if it means skiing a rutted icy course as significantly higher speeds than I am used to.

This may be fine for the kids but geezers are fragile and this needs to be respected.

I think a much longer course at typical NASTAR speeds would serve to differentiate the best without generating undue risk.


I've been down the road in my leathers at over 100 mph and it ain't fun or entertaining.

post #9 of 15

100 mph on a motorcycle would scare the bejeesus out of me but I have been clocked at 55 mph on a snowboard (not the smartest thing I've ever done).


The differences between a standard NASTAR course and those found at the Nationals are significant.  I prefer steep, turny, icy courses and usually use slalom skis.   The Elan SLX Waveflex has really treated me well.  One of the Platinum racers on Vogue this year posted a thought-provoking thread on the NASTAR Forum in which he revealed he had his best success on slalom skis. 


You'll see significant differences between National Handicaps and "Nationals" Handicaps with some racers, especially those who spend the year on gentle courses.  Take Steamboat itself as an example.  Their daily NASTAR on Lower Bashor is a pretty tame course.  Many of the racers who qualified there struggled on the steeper courses Steamboat used for the Nationals.


At age 62, I'm one of the older NASTAR pacesetters (Okemo).  I participated at the pacesetter trials at Windham this season. Windham has a moderate pitch and AJ Kitt set a course with a fair amount of offset.  I earned Platinum that day but only Gold at the Nationals although my handicap didn't drop off that much.  Over the years there have been some complaints about the difficulty of the courses at the Nationals to which many reply, "It's the Nationals!  It's supposed to be difficult."   NASTAR will never be confused the Masters racing.  It's an extremely well run program that attracts recreational racers from 3 to 93.  The only Nationals I've missed in the past six was 2007 when I broke a couple ribs while pacesetting.  I plan on competing for many years to come.



post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Pat.

The 100 mph was a crash without the motorcycle.

You learn to keep your arms in when you are rolling on the pavement so you don't break them off.

My current speed bike will run 197 mph flat out with no wind.

I need more power to make the 200 mph club at the Maxton Mile.

Stopping at this speed takes well over a mile.

At least I don't have to worry about getting hurt....


post #11 of 15

Someone just sent me a shot they took of me during the competition and I thought I'd share it.  The Snowboard event was on Lower Bashor where Steamboat runs their daily NASTAR and the pitch isn't particularly nasty. 


And this was taken on Vogue where it took everything for me to hold on.

post #12 of 15

Great pics Pat!

post #13 of 15
The theory of the NAtional STAndard Race is that it doesn't matter how good the pacesetter is - because the pacesetter's times are adjusted by their particular handicaps.

However, since a pacesetter's handicap is set at a given number - the racers' handicaps on any particular day will be higher or lower - depending on whether the pacesetter had a good day or a bad day.

If Pacesetters are not motivated to "race" their hardest - or at least on par with their given handicap - the handicaps for that day for all racers on the course will be artificially elevated.  If the pacesetter has a particularly good run when setting the pace, the other racers' handicaps will be artificially depressed that day.

I raced at a mountain where on some of the Nastar race days they had two pacesetters - and they chose the pacesetter who gave the most expected distribution of platinum/gold/silver/bronze finishes. On some days - only one of the pacesetters set the pace.  One of the pacesetters continually underperformed for his handicap - and everyone who raced on the day they used his time to set the pace scored higher on those days than they did on the day that the other pacesetter - who consistently performed at least up to par or better.

As far as skiing the same hill as Daron Rahlves - I made a photo comparison of Daron Rahlves and myself at several of the same gates on the same hill the same race day.  It's amazing to me how close his hips are to the hill.Rahlves - Bronze Div Silver Medalist side-by-side comparison.
post #14 of 15

At this year's Nastar Nationals, the Platinum/Gold hill was significantly steeper and icier than the Silver/Bronze hill - at least in my age group. 

post #15 of 15
Nice sequence of photos!  Although the NASTAR handicap system is imperfect, it's the best we have and overall it works pretty well.  There are some resorts that dispense a disproportionately large number of Platinums and Golds and have been accused of handing out "vanity handicaps" as a means of attracting more traffic.  I don't buy that.  I know that there are a number of tracks that have been set up on gentle pitches and putting in any meaningful offset makes the courses unusable.  As a result , pretty much anyone can tuck a course and get a good HC.  The solution is to move the course elsewhere on the mountain but resort logistics can make that unfeasible. 

I've been a pacesetter for the past three seasons.  Pride makes me give it my best effort on every pacesetting run and I can't imagine why anyone else would do differently.

Clearly, we had some challenging terrain at Steamboat.  The shot of me above (the one on skis) was shot on Vogue.  The next day I fractured my ankle on the same gate.  Unfortunately it was the first run of the day and, in a best of two format, my participation at the Nationals came to a screeching halt.  Fortunately I had finished my snowboard runs earlier in the day.

We still don't know the location of next year's event but I'd encourage everyone to try to qualify and compete in the event.  It's a wonderful experience to participate in a recreational sports event at the national level.
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