NASTAR champs from near, far |

NASTAR champs from near, far

Joel ReichenbergerSteamboat Pilot & TodayVail, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado If the idea behind NASTAR is to allow the everyday, recreational skier an opportunity to feel like an Olympian, mission accomplished.The NASTAR National Championships wrapped up at Steamboat Ski Area on Sunday morning, and competitors from Missouri, Florida and Pennsylvania took home some of the top awards.The event concluded with the Race of Champions, a harrowing dash down the See Me run. It was a major step up for many of the last days competitors, skiers who won their own age and skill divisions and had a crack at becoming the overall champion.The pressure proved too much for many at least a dozen wiped out on the icy slope. For those who made it, glory awaited.I had good coaching, good people and I put it all together, mens Alpine overall champion Steven Coulter said.Coulter qualified at Hidden Valley Ski Area near St. Louis. The resort offers a vertical drop of 310 feet, approximately the same amount of drop experienced skiing through the Bashor terrain park in Steamboat. Hidden Valley Ski Area averages 16 inches of snow a year. Steamboat, by comparison, had 17 inches of snow by the end of October.Coulter said hes skied 90 percent of his 45 days this season at Hidden Valley. It didnt seem to make any difference Sunday. Coulter had the sixth-fastest raw time at 28.99 seconds, and was the events winner by one-tenth of a second after the handicaps were included.That was close to my best run of the weekend. I still scrubbed a couple gates, Coulter said. Ive been doing NASTAR for five years, but Ive never done this well before.Those more familiar with Steamboat raced well, too. Rob Zehner, a Steamboat Springs High School graduate and a former club skier at the University of Colorado, won the Alpine raw-time award, blazing down the mountain with the fastest time of the weekend.One of the final racers to push off from the top of See Me, he tore through the steep section of the course before nearly falling when it flattened out. He wobbled but recovered and flew across the finish line in 27 seconds flat, 0.83 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.He was one of just three skiers to make the run in less than 28 seconds.I got a little tight at the bottom and my knees got packed in with all that speed, but I managed to get through it, Zehner said. It feels really good. It was fun and an exhilarating experience.Diane Marzurek from the Blue Mountain Ski Area in Pennsylvania won the womens Alpine overall title. Steamboat qualifier Melanie Halliday finished second, just 0.51 seconds behind her.Nicole Taylor of New Hampshire had the fastest raw time, finishing in 31.36 seconds.Madi McKinstry, a 14-year-old from Steamboat, won the non-Alpine womens race skiing on telemark skis.It was kind of icy, but I had a good, solid, smooth run, said McKinstry, who abandoned her Alpine skis four years ago. I didnt feel that fast, but when I got to the bottom, I realized I was.Richard Knight, a Florida resident who traveled earlier in the season to qualify at Steamboat, won the mens non-Alpine event. Visually impaired, his time of 38.45 translated into a victory by one-hundredth of a second.It was terrific, said Knight, who spends more time skiing on water than snow. I took two trips this year and skied for two weeks.Knight was one of 17 skiers who qualified through Steamboat to win their classification Friday and Saturday and earn the right to race Sunday.Try the Steamboat Pilot & Today for 45 days FREE

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