Ski Town Race Series makes a comeback

By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer

BIG SKY – Locals will be able to race toe-to-toe for official times this winter in the recreational Ski Town Race Series, an on-slope competition that will allow participants to compete in teams on Big Sky Resort’s NASTAR course, then enjoy après get-togethers afterward.

In partnership with Outlaw Partners (publisher of EBS), the resort will host weekly races beginning in January and ending in March for a total of seven race days. Locals and businesses can assemble teams of four to six racers to compete in afternoon races and then convene at a local establishment to share drinks and compare course times.

A team and an individual will win every week and overall for the season, which will be announced at a grand finale barbecue celebration in March.

The Big Sky Ski Education Foundation, a local race program, ran intermural races for years, according to Big Sky Resort Vice President of Mountain Services Troy Nedved. The races were discontinued several years ago, but with the reintroduction of the resort’s NASTAR course in the 2016/2017 season, the mountain decided to reinvigorate the town series, starting small last winter. The goals are bigger for the 2018-2019 season.

“We’re really trying to … get businesses and a broader reach of the community involved in the race series,” Nedved said, adding that the Big Sky community has grown to a size that warrants a legitimate Town Race Series.

Ski communities like Vail, Aspen and Steamboat in Colorado all host thriving town races that allow locals on telemark skis, snowboards and alpine skis to face off on the slopes then share in camaraderie at après gatherings at restaurants around the base.

“[We want] to create a winter community gathering, like softball league has become for the summer,” Outlaw Partners CEO and publisher of EBS Eric Ladd said. “A fun competition for all levels of skiers and boarders.”

NASTAR, which stands for “National Standard Race,” is the world’s largest public grassroots ski racing program, developed by Ski Magazine in 1968, according to the NASTAR website. Through a handicap system, participants can compare their times to competitors across the country, regardless of when or where they race.

Participants earn a handicap when they race, which represents the difference between their race time and the par time, which is set by U.S. Ski Team alumni. Each competitor is then able to measure how close they were to the “fastest possible time” set by the U.S. Ski Team pace-setter for that course.

Racers will need a lift ticket or season pass to ride up the lift, which aren’t included in team registration. Nedved said racers registered with a team will not need a NASTAR season pass, although the resort will offer discounted NASTAR passes to race series participants so they can practice outside of race days.

Registration is $500 per team and will open Dec. 1.

Visit bigskyresort.com/events for more information.