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Thread: NASTAR resorts dropping like flies

  1. #1
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    NASTAR resorts dropping like flies

    So Vail resorts is out, Crested Butte, Belleayre, Gore...(?) - I am getting a little worried. I don't know the economics of NASTAR but this looks like a significant hit, especially VR. Should we be concerned that NASTAR could be going out of business?
    At Belleayre, my home mountain/hill, the reason given is that the course runs under a lift and is very visible. Apparently some people have been complaining that the run is blocked for the general public because of NASTAR racing although there was not much race activity. So it was supposedly not an economic decision by the mountain. A number of season pass holders have complained and it looks like they will now offer a local race series with 4 or so races. Not much but better than nothing... We are lobbying hard to get it back next season but I'd say it's a long shot.

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    Senior Member chuckp7600's Avatar
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    I'm waiting to see what will happen next year with Afton Alps (MN) which is now a Vail resort. This year they are still running Nastar and hopefully they will continue since they are part of a multi hill race league that uses Nastar as its recording medium.

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    Member cheesehead's Avatar
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    I have been having the same thoughts as you, docmartin. I love racing NASTAR and would hate to see it go out of business. I have been frustrated by the lack of accurate information provided by the resorts.
    Several times I have driven up to Copper Mountain to race, only to find NASTAR closed because the Summit Racing Team or some other group is either doing practice runs or races.
    Snowy Range in Wyoming is listed as a place for NASTAR racing with a phone number listed for information. I called them to get information and they had no clew. They said they thought they were still in negotiations but they did not know for sure.
    In another thread, there is a link to information about NASTAR at Aspen/Snowmass. In BOLD print it says daily NASTAR is available 7 days a week. IMMEDIATELY below that is info for the individual resorts saying Snowmass is open 4 days a week and Aspen and Aspen Highlands is open 5 days a week.
    If the information communicated to your customers is inaccurate, unreliable or simply impossible to obtain, then you are destined to be a FAILURE! There seems to be a lack of accountability by the resorts or maybe they just don't care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
    In another thread, there is a link to information about NASTAR at Aspen/Snowmass. In BOLD print it says daily NASTAR is available 7 days a week. IMMEDIATELY below that is info for the individual resorts saying Snowmass is open 4 days a week and Aspen and Aspen Highlands is open 5 days a week.
    To be precise, the link states; "Public NASTAR courses in Aspen/Snowmass are available seven days a week! " So technically, if you partition that out to all the areas in the Aspen/Snowmass group, it is a true statement. So Snowmass runs NASTAR on MTF&Sa, Aspen Mtn. W-Su, and Aspen Highlands W-Su. To your point, I don't know if they follow their published schedules.

    Go Packers!

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    Senior Member oldgold76's Avatar
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    NASTAR going out of business?

    Quote Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
    So Vail resorts is out, Crested Butte, Belleayre, Gore...(?) - I am getting a little worried. I don't know the economics of NASTAR but this looks like a significant hit, especially VR. Should we be concerned that NASTAR could be going out of business?
    It appears NASTAR's policies and business strategies over the past decade or two have been developed primarily to satisfy the goals of the top ten percent or so their customer base, the top performing racers, many of whom are regular contributors to this forum. Ignoring the concerns of the vast majority of your customers is a risky endeavor and the falling numbers of participants, profits and participating resorts spells that out more clearly than ever. NASTAR has recently employed some gimmicks, like creating the Silver and Bronze divisions, to try to increase participation, but these efforts have failed to spark a return to the early glory days of the organization. The problem is similar to the decline of the golf industry. When that sport was growing, almost wildly, in the early nineties championship courses were designed and built everywhere. It became clear in short order that most golfers did not care for the penal layouts with their excessive water, bunkering, narrow fairways and lighting fast greens. Play faultered and many of those courses failed or were forced to offer special deals and incentives to attract business. NASTAR has made its courses more and more difficult over the decades (I've been in it since '76), saying all along it was a move to accomodate improved equipment and technology (heard that argument with titanium drivers, too, but the courses closed anyway). What a joke. Most NASTAR racers never spend two grand on skis and boots. In fact, most ski on the same recreational equipment for five to ten years. Sometimes more. Yet courses are designed and set to standards demanded by those who use, and apparently have the time and money to train on, specialized racing gear. So NASTAR finally sends out a questionnaire to the masses and doesn't include ONE question about how we feel about course sets, or whether or not we think the races are fun or exciting. Not one question. Brilliant. I wish someone could tell me how a course can be fun and challenging for a top amateur racer (with, say, a three handicap) and still be appropriate for a true recreational racer with a handicap in mid-thirties, or higher. That latter group represents the vast majority of the NASTAR entrants. Can't be done. Never was, never will. And people are really wondering why NASTAR is floundering? It's not a good sign when the resorts that offer NASTAR don't promote it well, or run it regularly. They don't take it seriously because it isn't making them money. And guess what. That's because fewer and fewer recreational racers across the country are participating consistently. But apparently NASTAR isn't worried, because every year they manage to pull together a thousand or so racers to join in the fun at Nationals. And the clique on this forum constantly trumpets the virtues of the organization. We'll see how that plays out. But I'm guessing NASTAR can only take a few more big hits. If another half-dozen or so big resorts pull the NASTAR plug it will be very hard to keep the thing going on the revenues from the ma and pa resorts in the foothills. It will be a shame when it goes, but they should have seen it coming when there was still time to do something about it. OG

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by oldgold76 View Post
    NASTAR has made its courses more and more difficult over the decades (I've been in it since '76), saying all along it was a move to accomodate improved equipment and technology (heard that argument with titanium drivers, too, but the courses closed anyway). What a joke. Most NASTAR racers never spend two grand on skis and boots. In fact, most ski on the same recreational equipment for five to ten years. Sometimes more. Yet courses are designed and set to standards demanded by those who use, and apparently have the time and money to train on, specialized racing gear. OG
    OG,

    While I agree that Nastar has an issue when ski areas are leaving the system I completely disagree that attendance is going down due to the courses becoming more and more difficult. Please explain to me how the course sets have changed at the hill you normally race at? Are they putting in more gates, less gates or something else? I have been around the game for a long time as well and I do not see what you are alluding to about course sets getting harder and harder, and thus catering to the top 10% of racers. Here in the Midwest Chestnut, Cascade, Tyrol Basin, and Granite Peak, to name a few, seem to be pretty consistant on how they set now compared to 10 plus years ago. The hills back east that I grew up on are similar as well. When I travel back and go to Hunter Mountain, Wyndham, Belleayre, and Shawnee they are the same as they were in the 70's, 80's and 90's. I lived in Montana and Colorado in the late 70's and 80's and raced "recreationally" when I was there. When I travel there on vacation the hills are the same and the courses seem pretty much the same to me. The only change is that I am older and the equipment has changed. There is only so much you can do with any given hill, especially the easy hills most home Nastar courses are set on. What has changed is the people that do spend the money on equipment, regardless of whether they are a serious racer or casual racer, can now compete at a higher level than those that ski on old outdated equipment. No different than in golf at the easy, flat, not much to it, local public golf course. So maybe some of those in the latter group are no longer having fun because they just cannot compete at the same level they could in the past. That has nothing to do with a course set. We all know that as we age priorities change, and how we decide to spend our money changes as well. This past decade many people have changed their saving and spending habits, and this has effected many industries and businesses, including Nastar. I just cannot agree that Nastar is losing people becasue it caters to the top 10%, and that course sets are the reason.


    In addition I would be courious to see how skier starts across the country have trended over the years. Are they drastically different now than in the past? You seem to assume that they are. I am not so sure. Maybe the make up is different, but isn't that common for most businesses? Obviously if major resorts leave Nastar that would have an impact on skier starts, but I would find it hard to believe that the race crew will set any differently because they are no longer a Nastar venue. Course sets at the local hills have very little to do with the overall attendance.

    By the way I do not spend thousands on new gear every year but I do ski on equipment that is designed for the task at hand. I ski on boots that are 5 years old, and my fastest GS skis are a 2008 Head World Cup. When I am in line at a Nastar course I seem to be on some of the oldest equipment around, so your comment that "in fact most ski on the same recreational equipment for five to ten years. Sometimes more." just does not hold water with me. Your use of the term 'most" is very overstated in many instances. Some would be a better choice of words.

  7. #7
    Administrator patmoore's Avatar
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    I can only speak for my home mountain (Okemo) but our participation has significantly increased over the past two years. The Eastern Championship held there recently more than doubled the turnout of any of the four previous Opens.

    The ill-advised defection by Vail Resorts had a negligible impact on attendance at this year's Nationals.

    And for what it's worth, I do my pacesetting on a pair of ten year old Atomics.
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    Senior Member chuckp7600's Avatar
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    I'm trying to get final confirmation from Afton how the Epic Mix is going to impact Midwest Race League (multi hill beer league). They will be the only hill involved who does not use Nastar, so I'm not sure how they will reconcile that. It looks like I'll be racing at Welch next year, have to decide by Sunday which is when the $200 season pass deal runs out.

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    Senior Member TeamHub390's Avatar
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    $200 for a seasons pass? That does not sound like a Vail Venue. (Just Kidding Chuck!) Very affordable. We may be looking at the same issue here at Mt. Brighton for the beer league, but I only ski 8 nights a year there or 12-16 nights if I decide to do the coached training, so still not worth a season's (Epic) pass. I may be spending a lot more time next year in Wisconsin since my husband has taken an interim administration job in Germantown and we'll be weekly commuters. I've done some scouting around and I like it so far. Any suggestions from the WI racer group?
    Last edited by TeamHub390; 03-28-2013 at 05:40 PM. Reason: humor clarification :-)

  10. #10
    Senior Member chuckp7600's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeamHub390 View Post
    $200 for a seasons pass? That does not sound like a Vail Venue. Very affordable. We may be looking at the same issue here at Mt. Brighton for the beer league, but I only ski 8 nights a year there or 12-16 nights if I decide to do the coached training, so still not worth a season's (Epic) pass. I may be spending a lot more time next year in Wisconsin since my husband has taken an interim administration job in Germantown and we'll be weekly commuters. I've done some scouting around and I like it so far. Any suggestions from the WI racer group?
    $200 is the early bird price at Welch Village - not Afton (Vail)

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