DAVIS - A program at Timberline Resort allows people of all ages and physical capabilities to enjoy racing on the ski slopes.
Tim Worden, director of racing at Timberline Resort, said skiiers come from all over the country to participate in the racing program.
NASTAR racing was developed in 1968 by John Fry, the former editor-in-chief of SKI magazine. The name is an acronym for the NAtional STAndard Race. NASTAR is the largest racing program of its kind in the world today.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Carrie McGrew
Tim Worden, the director of racing at Timberline Resort, says NASTAR?is gaining popularity.
Since its beginning, more than 6 million racer days have been recorded. The racing gives recreational skiiers the opportunity to compete with friends and family no matter when or where they race.
In North America alone there are 120 resorts that participate.
NASTAR racing is mainly sponsored by Nature Valley and was introduced to Timberline Resort in the mid-1980s. Races at Timberline are held five days per week, Thursdays through Mondays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., off Lower Thunderstruck, one of the resort's slopes.
The scores are set up on a handicap system that is standardized across the country.
Worden said, "Basically you can come here and race and get a handicap, then go to another resort, get a handicap and it should be about the same.
"How it works is that the fastest guy on the US Ski Team for the Olympics, Ted Ligety, has a 0 handicap and everyone is paced off his score. If you come here and get a 25 handicap, then you are 25 percent slower than Ligety."
Worden is originally from Davis and has worked at Timberline Resort since 1991. He started teaching skiing at Canaan Valley Resort in the 1978-79 season.
"My brother, sister and brother-in-law were all instructors," he said.
Being a ski instructor and watching people race at the resort is what sparked his interest in racing. One of his favorite races at the resort is the Governer's Cup, which is celebrating its 54th year and will be held at Timberline later this winter. Some NASTAR racers participate in this race as well.
Steve Kaufman, the pacesetter for Timberline, said, " I ski the course first to set the pace for the day and everyone that races after me bases their scores on my handicap."
Kaufman has been working at the resort for 19 seasons and has been a pacesetter for 10. He said he became interested in the sport by "just working on the mountain, trying new things and wanting to explore every aspect of skiing (which) led me to racing."
Timberline instructors take part in several pacesetting trials every year. The fastest racer at the resort is about a 15 handicap, Worden said. Every year the pacesetters travel to resorts in the mid-Atlantic region for the trials.
A traveling pacesetter at the trials, who is usually a 1 or 2 handicap, starts the race and each participant races against his time to get their handicap.
Medals are awarded to each age and gender group to assign them to a racer division. Racers must achieve a certain score to receive an award.
The medals are platinum, gold, silver and bronze, depending on the handicap each racer earns.
For the top three racers at each resort, based on age and gender categories, a National Title race is held every year. These racers are invited to compete with some of the best in the National Championships.
The races are open to skiiers, snowboarders, physically handicapped individuals and telemarkers, also known as cross-country skiiers.
Categories for disabilities range from blind to mono skiiers (those whose physical movement is restricted) who use special adaptive skiing equipment. Each of these individuals gets a discount off their NASTAR handicap based on their disability category. Timbeline offers adaptive skiing program for these individuals.
NASTAR racing is a fun way to compete with others across the country and share your scores with friends, family or co-workers, officials say.
The interesting part is that you do not have to be at the same place or race at the same time.
You can also organize your own team to compete with other teams across the country, so everyone can experience the thrill of racing just like the