Joel Reichenberger: NASTAR win still paying off for skiers

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— I was making my way down Howelsen Hill nearly a year ago when I realized I needed to make some mental adjustments to go along with tons of physical ones if I ever was to be a respectable ski racer.

The racers I was training with that day, fixtures on the Town Challenge circuit in Steamboat Springs, grimaced as snow fell, slowing down the rock-hard ice they’d been shooting down.

To me, the snow finally made turning possible and was a welcome relief.

Catching up with Steam­­boat Springs racer Robby Zehner recently, I again was struck by how hard fast can be.

Zehner is one of two Steam­­boat skiers who have taken an immense deal from NASTAR.

To many, the short giant slalom course in Bashor Bowl at Steamboat Ski Area is a way to settle a bet or burn some time.

For Zehner and Kersten Scherer, NASTAR has been a gift that’s not stopped giving. Each won a trip to train with the U.S. Ski Team in Chile after winning at the NASTAR National Champ­­ionships when they last touched down in Steamboat Springs in 2009.

The aftereffects of that victory still are rippling. Each of the skiers was trailed by cameras before the 2010 championships, which took place last season in Winter Park, and both were featured on a show on the Universal Sports TV network.

That program aired several times in December and recently was made available on the NASTAR website. In it, Zehner and Scherer share some of their secrets.

Zehner graduated from Steam­­boat Springs High School and still makes regular trips back, frequently competing in Town Chall­enge races.

Scherer moved to town from Minnesota and trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Zehner is featured working out on the Front Range, where he runs Alpine Crossfit, and skiing with his parents, Tom and Patti Zehner, who are regulars at the Steamboat course.

Scherer is featured trying to deal with the pressure of a big race.

Bridger Gile, a young ski racer from Aspen, also is profiled.

Zehner said that it took several days of filming, some near his Front Range home and one on the snow with his parents, and that the most interesting part was seeing what made the cut from all that footage.

What I saw was that there’s a lot more to being a great ski racer than equipment.

The show has been div­ided into four parts at the NASTAR site. Visit www.nastar.com/articles/nature-valley-nastar-behind-the-gates-tv-episode-one to check out the first one. After it’s finished, you can choose to watch any of the next three from the video box.

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