NASAR, National Standard Race Program

NASAR, National Standard Race Program

National Standard Race Program Finds Its Roots In The 60s. It was the brainchild of SKI Magazine editor- in-chief John Fry. Seeing the growth of skiing in the United States, but with no real outlets for the competition aspect of the sport, Fry adopted a universal handicap scoring system that was being used in France. In France at the time, ski instructors were rated by the percentage they lagged behind the time recorded by the fastest French ski instructor.

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This system was used so that instructors from other resorts could compare themselves to instructors at various other resorts. Fry believed the program would be applicable to recreational ski racing in the United States, adopted the program, and called it the National Standard Race. The program, later to be given the acronym NASTAR, was introduced in 1968 as a means to measure the performance of recreational skiers at resorts across America.

Similar to golf’s handicap system, ski racers of all ages and abilities could now compare their times and compete with one another regardless of where and when they raced. NASTAR became the recreational race program at resorts across the country as competitors measured their skiing ability against the national standard established by the fastest member of the U.S. Ski Team.

Only 2,297 persons and eight ski areas took part in NASTAR that first season, but behind the efforts of former U.S. Alpine Team coach Bob Beattie, the program took off. Beattie took over as NASTAR commissioner and guided the program through its growth. The program grew to more than 100 resorts and attracted close to one million skiers. Since 1968, more than 5 million skiers have raced NASTAR.

One of the resorts that host NASTAR competition is Sugar Mountain. The program began at Sugar Mountain in 1976, and the program has flourished since its inception.

“NASTAR has been well received here at Sugar,” said Sugar Mountain marketing director Kim Jochl. “People love having the chance to compete and enjoy the challenge of trying to get better.”

While the basic NASTAR system has remained the same for more than 35 years, a few of the early practices of the program have evolved. The most significant change came in the form of age divisions. The first year of NASTAR featured no age divisions whatsoever. Currently, age categories are determined by a participant’s age as of December 31. The age divisions now range from 1-4 to 90-and-over.

All participating resorts, like Sugar Mountain, are provided with a race package that includes all necessary materials needed for the successful execution of the NASTAR program such as start/finish banners, directional signage, gate panels, race bibs and state-of-the-art scoring/registration software.

Resorts are ultimately responsible for the location and set up of their NASTAR course, but typically it is visible from a high traffic lift or lodge. Resorts have the option of single or dual courses, and each course is set up with 12 to 20 gates that racers must maneuver around. NASTAR encourages venues to standardize their courses to have a par time of 23 seconds.

Each time you race NASTAR, you earn a handicap that represents the difference between your race time and the recorded time by the fastest ski racer in the United States. You also win a Platinum, Gold or Bronze medal depending on the handicap you earn.

In the end, NASTAR provides millions of skiers the thrill of racing gates just like the pros. This thrill is what keeps skiers coming back to places like Sugar Mountain.

“We usually bring in a big crowd for NASTAR,” Jochl said. “People just love having the chance to compete and have fun.”

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