Winter Park Resort parts with NASTAR |

Winter Park Resort parts with NASTAR

Two skiers prepare to take on the new skills course at Winter Park Resort. The course replaced the NASTAR portion of the mountain this season.
Carl Frey / Alterra Mountain Co. |

You may have noticed a lack of racing gates along the Cranmer trail at Winter Park Resort this season, as the ski area parted ways with NASTAR this year, the world’s largest recreational ski and snowboard racing program.

NASTAR, an acronym for National Standard Race, is a program that allows recreational skiers and boarders across the country to compete against one another using scores developed through a handicap system. The resort supported NASTAR for nearly 20 years, from December 1997 to April 2017, and hosted three national championship events in 2010 through 2012.

“In 1997 is really when we started, when we created that area,” said Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations and communications for Winter Park Resort. “We had a shack that we build over there, and we were able to host the NASTAR National Championships a few years. In the late 90s and early 2000s, if you look at the sort of impact that NASTAR had, pretty much every ski resort in the country utilized it. And that’s just not the case now.”

Hurlbert said the resort decided to move on from NASTAR for a number of reasons, but primarily because of falling participation numbers. He said NASTAR participants have been gradually diminishing for several years, particularly in the program’s previously biggest demographic: children.

Hurlbert noted that the lack of participation also made it difficult for the resort to justify leaving it up in such a highly trafficked area as Cranmer trail.

“It’s really kind of a valuable piece of real estate that just wasn’t being utilized to the extent that it had in years past,” he said. “So it was a tough decision, but we figured that we could repurpose that area for something that the public would be able to get a lot more use out of.”

Replacing NASTAR is the competition center’s skill course.

The course is maintained daily, and is meant to simulate a boardercross course with jumps and berms. The course is used by the competition center, ski and ride school, and is free and open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Hurlbert said that groups still looking to participate in NASTAR can contact the competition center before visiting, and the race crew may be able to set a course up for them, provided there’s enough time and manpower.

“It was a really tough decision for us,” said Hurlbert. “NASTAR has been a part of our resort since 1997. But I think if people check out the skills course they’re going to be really impressed. Our terrain park and slope maintenance people have done a great job constructing it, and I think it’s just a cool, new thing that he have here for people to enjoy.”

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