When Chad Fleischer was growing up in the Nebraska flatlands, the highlight of the year was the annual family ski trip to Vail, Colo. And the climax of the vacation was always the family nastar race.
"That was my first race experience," recalls Fleischer, who is now 27 and sports a one-of-a-kind "snow leopard" hairdo. "It was a chance to test ourselves after a week of skiing. I don't think I ever got better than a bronze¿I was the bronze medal king."
Fleischer moved with his family to Vail at age 11, joined the ski club and the rest is history. Now he's a U.S. Ski Team standout, a runner-up in the downhill at the 1999 World Cup Finals and nastar.com's new national pacesetter. Fleischer's expanded role as nastar pacesetter¿which, among other things, will have him filing reports from the World Cup circuit and competing in the nastar national championships April 1-2, at Beaver Creek, Colo.¿is just one part of a reinvigorated nastar program.
"Since nastar was founded by SKI in 1968, millions of recreational skiers have participated in the program and worked hard to lower their handicap," says Andy Bigford, SKI editor-in-chief. "Like Chad, hundreds of them have gone on to race with the U.S. Ski Team."
SKI has entered a partnership with Kaleidoscope Sports and Entertainment to restructure and re-launch nastar, while nastar director Bill Madsen will run operations. The new program includes a strong relationship with the U.S. Ski Team that includes new Ski Team nastar race arenas nationwide and donations from SKI to the Team. SKI also will cover the new nastar program, including race results and competition tips from Fleischer.
Under the new program, there will be an emphasis on nastar's website¿nastar.com¿and on downloaded results. A racer at Okemo, Vt., can check his performance handicap that evening against a fellow competitor in Vail, Colo.
Nastar is also introducing team racing for families, ski schools, ski patrols and ski shops. Team members needn't race on the same day or even at the same resort.
Whether you want to ski steeps or bumps, jump cliffs or cruise, Fleischer says nastar will help make you a better skier. "You can use nastar to work on your technique, to settle a grudge with a friend, or to just learn how to go faster," says Fleischer. "That's what's best about it. It's always out there every day. It's up to you how you use it."
For more information, check nastar.com .