Roger Marolt: Shooting like a NASTAR star
Why is NASTAR citizen ski racing important? It is because not every day is a powder day. If it snowed six inches every night all winter long, we wouldn’t have to actually learn how to use our edges and make proper ski turns. And, we wouldn’t get bored.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t snow every night, so we do need to learn better skiing technique to navigate harder snow and bumps, and, around the middle of every ski season, we do get a little bored, especially if we are punching our ski tickets every day to get a 100 Day pin.
This is where NASTAR can help. There is nothing better for improving your turns than going as fast as you can while having to make turns where you don’t necessarily want to. As difficult as this sounds, sometimes the hardest part is seeing your time through such a course posted at the finish line. As they say, the clock doesn’t lie. The same cannot be said about your ski instructor. Likewise, your friends will always tell you that you are an awesome skier, as long as you are telling them the same.
As for boredom, I see too many people this time of year straight-lining Spar Gulch. When skiers resort to this type of “skiing,” what else to explain it other than unyielding apathy? Skiing has lost their attention. Going straight is the snow sport version of the backyard kids’ challenge of chugging a can of root beer before one minute of vigorous bouncing on a trampoline, culminating with a stomach flip. Both are more curious than thrilling and can end in a mess.
So, what exactly is NASTAR ski racing besides a chance for any skier at most major resorts to take a few runs through a real race course, whenever they want, as many times a day as their legs hold out for? There’s no coaching. No pressure. No yawning. And, it’s inexpensive (this year it’s free in Aspen and Snowmass). There is a waiver, but you can even take care of that online ahead of time.
Let me give you a baseball analogy of what NASTAR ski racing is like. Picture a crusty, former ballplayer standing in front of the mound on a piece of carpet to protect the grass and behind an L-shaped screen to protect himself. There is a shopping cart of baseballs parked within an arm’s reach to his side. At one time probably a pretty good player in his own right, his sole skill today is the ability to throw a ball toward the plate with uncanny accuracy at a velocity that will be super satisfyingly pulverized by a hitter coiled at home plate, ready to strike.
All players, even pitchers, can’t wait to stand in the batter’s box and hammer batting practice pitches. Tradition and loosening muscles up dictates that one begins by bunting one down the third-base line, then one down the first-base line. You hit one to the right side as if to move an imaginary base runner from second to third base. You execute a hit-and-run ground ball. You lift a sacrifice fly deep into the outfield. Then, with the baseball gods’ blessings, you let ‘er rip! You take seven cuts trying to launch the ball as hard and far as you can! You then step out of the cage and wait anxiously for your next round. And, what do you know? You become a better hitter in this process! Magic like this just doesn’t occur in the real world. If it did, we would build lean muscle mass by eating cheesecake.
NASTAR ski racing is like this. The course is all set up for you. It will be short and easy, like a four-seam meatball. Warm up your muscles on the way to the start. There are even fences lining the courses to keep you out of the trees if you happen to crash. Just show up and let ‘er rip.
The other thing is that you get a pin in NASTAR. I don’t know why this is important, but pins seem to be in Aspen. The cool thing about NASTAR is that you earn pins for getting better at skiing, not just enduring it. You earn a bronze, silver, gold or platinum based on your performance compared to every other NASTAR racer in the country. It gets you psyched for the next try and, hopefully, a different color medal. It might even help make getting a 100 Day pin interesting, too.
Roger Marolt feels like a slower version of a kid again in a NASTAR course. email@example.com