What resorts are offering NASTAR this season?
December 22, 2005
I suppose Liberty will have its usual NASTAR run, but does anyone know other resorts in PA, WV, VA, MD that will have NASTAR programs. For instance, Snowshoe has NASTAR on Skipjack during the 2003-04 season but was not listed as a NASTAR participant for 2004-05.
Any info out there?
I've seen nothing regarding NASTAR, but Wintergreen is getting more serious about racing. They've installed a permanent timer's shack at the bottom of Sunrise/Tequila (and possibly Acorn) this year, and conduit to carry the cables.
Wintergreen will host the J 1/2/3 SARA championships this year, and they also run some college races for the UVA Alpine Ski Race Club.
comprex, 7 Springs moved the race course from giant steps to tyrol 2 or3 years ago. Is snowshoe still on skipjack or does nastar just still think so?
ah duh ... why didn't I think of that? Thanks comprex!~
snowcone, sorry, I'm a bit confused now as you're quite right about the NASTAR site being slow to update.
Have you been in touch with Snowshoe by phone?
comprex ... haven't contacted them yet but we are going up for a 4 day weekend on the 15th so will check around then. Last year they didn't have a timing hut set up on Skipjack and when we asked we were told there was no Nastar. Yet SS has a couple of junior ski teams and I assume they have to practice somewhere. I suspect that the Nastar is for the local teams only and you just can't pay your bucks and make a couple of runs like in the past. If that is the case, then it's just one more black mark in the negative column for SS. Depressing.
FWIW, I sensed last year that Snowshoe's junior race program was just starting up again after a hiatus. The one USSA race held there last year (I'm not sure whether the Cupp's Run Challenge counts, but it's the same weekend) was a bit of a challenge for them, especially in regards to timing equipment. They actually had to cancel the younger kids' slalom because of darkness after messing with the system most of the afternoon.
Plus ... I don't know about other teams, but at Wintergreen, the timing equipment only comes out for races.
Timberline and Canaan have or had active Nastar programs with Timberline being the most consistent with an excellent staff. As for other areas, Bryce generally has nastar, the nut used to, I don't know if they do any more. Wintergreen has not in the past. Having been a race parent for 10 + years, I can attest to the problems various mountains have in setting up timing devices. Nastar is different from the USSA requirements for timing devices. With Nastar, there need be only one timer, and it doesn't have to be on an approved list like the USSA requires. Most ski areas aren't equiped to run races and few have the expertise to do so anyway. When I refer to equipment I'm talking about not only timing mechanisms, but gates, drills, turn tools, even timing shacks. Expertise comes in the form of someone who knows how to set gates in a safe manner for the slope or trail. When considering all the requirements for a successful racing program, it's no wonder that few areas get involved. If I were to list the best race mountains, considering the above criteria, in the VA, WV, and MD, they would go as follows:
Best....Bryce and Timberline. Both have experienced race staffs and the needed equipment to run both Nastar as well as USSA races.
Good....Wintergreen and Massanutten, and Winterplace. These are dependent on the course setters knowing what they are doing and race terrain. My past experience gives the edge to Massanutten.
Fair to Poor...Snowshoe/Silver Creek, Canaan Valley. Both areas used to have very active racing departments but due to staff turnover, management philosophy on racing, equipment issues, etc...neither is a good place to race. Maybe this will be different this season (I hope).
Unknown...Wisp. New program and unknowns but some of the people involved are knowledgable and should be helpful in getting this mountain into racing in a big way. Squirrel Cage is a terrific race hill.
PA Resorts... I have limited experience there, however, I like 7S, Elk, and WT as those in the lead. The Pocono resorts all do some form of racing, usually USSA. But in all reality, you don't have a bad mountain in the state when it comes to terrain for racing. It all depends upon the staffing and equipment issues as is the case everywhere.
I guess I answered my own question about NASTAR at Snowshoe this last weekend ... nobody knows. Maybe they will open the timing shacks during the week, maybe not. Maybe they will have an hour or two on the weekends, maybe not. Maybe it will only be the local team and closed runs. If anyone knows what the devil is going on up there they sure aren't sharing the info with the public or the staff.
My general impression was of confusion and disorganization. I realize that there is new management but they do not seem to be off to an auspicious start. We've been going to SS for years and pretty much nothing bothers us but were significantly unimpressed with just about everything with the exception of our good buddy instructors and the Foxfire. We weren't the only ones. I heard more than a little kvetching on the lift rides up the hill.
The lift ticket scanners are a joke. Most of the lifties scan early in the morning when the traffic is low and then pretty much give up about 10-11 when things get busy.
Many people we have come to know over the years are gone. Mike is still head honcho on Ballhooter lift but the country music guys on the Powderridge lift are no longer there. Missy and the 'old grouchy guy' are gone from the lessons office at Shaver Center. Several of the top long-time instructors have left for, what we understand, were better opportunities ... this, for us, is not a promotional bell-ringer for the ski school. There are lots of non-foreign twenty-somethings trying real hard to be efficient with notably mixed results.
Times are a-changin' I guess.
But .. the conditions were terrific, the trails that were open were in excellent shape, Saturday and Sunday were absolutely perfect bluebird days and on Monday morning, the Ballhooter wind showed that it is still evil incarnate.
And now for the Good News. It seems that with the new construction going on at the top of Widowmaker, Snowshoe is required by some agreement to expand skiing territory. Consequently, Widowmaker lift will be replaced next year with a high-speed quad [detachable??] in order to service the four, count 'em, 4 new trails that will be cut to the south of the lift. Supposedly the trails will be greens and blues, how many of each is unknown. A few more blues on the Basin side would be a good thing as Gandy and Skippy can get crowded at times. There are still no plans for expanding the Western Territory and our sources do not know why, considering the criminal under-utilization of the WT lift. Maybe management will address that next year.