Eyes up and plan ahead: Expert racers offer NASTAR tips | SteamboatToday.com

Eyes up and plan ahead: Expert racers offer NASTAR tips

Steamboat Springs skier Pete Wither has been racing in Steamboat Springs his whole life. He said he's eager to do it again this week as the NASTAR National Championships descend on Steamboat Ski Area.

— Keep your equipment in good shape. Be early. Spend some time inspecting the course. Keep your eyes up while racing.

It sounds easy enough, but some of Steamboat Springs' fastest skiers and snowboarders said ripping down a run as swiftly as possible is anything but simple.

The NASTAR National Championships return to Steamboat Springs this weekend, setting hundreds of ski racers — amateur, but dedicated — on courses at Steamboat Ski Area. They'll be looking for any chance to shave a few fractions of a second, and a few local legends had some tips to share with those harboring a need for speed.

Justin Reiter

Olympic snowboarder

Reiter, fresh off another season on the Alpine snowboarder World Cup circuit, said the best thing for a racer to remember is not just to think ahead, but to look ahead.

"You want to be on your toes, forward, driving down the hill," said Reiter, a World Championship silver medalist and 2014 Olympian.

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"One of the biggest things that can help is your vision down the hill," he said. "Even we get stuck on that. The faster we go, the closer we look to our skis or snowboards. If you can keep your eyes and head up, keep your chest forward and keep attacking down the hill, you'll be better. You need to not be riding in the backseat or riding in the back of the boot, because then, you're not able to respond and act on the course."

Reiter said he's eager to try to implement his own advice this weekend in his NASTAR starts.


Pete Wither

Long-time local ski racer

Wither acknowledges he was always a step slower than his competition growing up. There's no shame in that, however, as the kind of racers he was "a little behind" included U.S. ski racing legends such as Buddy Werner and Loris Werner.

"You need to prepare mentally," said Wither, who plans to race this weekend with NASTAR.

Though he never made the U.S. Ski Team, Wither has remained an enthusiastic regular, even into his 70s. Mount Werner and Steamboat Ski Area have long been his venue of choice.

"Do some racing ahead of time to get used to going through the gates, so that's not an unusual event for you, and be at the start in plenty of time, so you're not in a tither," he said. "Just be thinking about making good turns and getting down through the course as fast as you can, and hopefully, you'll end up a winner."

Caroline Lalive Carmichael

Olympic skier, 13-year U.S. Ski Team veteran

As Alpine director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Alpine program, Caroline Lalive Carmichael helped oversee the recent building of the All Out run at Steamboat Ski Area.

The run, new this winter, is a dedicated race and training venue for ski racers in Steamboat Springs and is one of the sites of this week's NASTAR races.

"It's a new trail, new terrain, so skiers need to make sure they inspect the hill well," she said.

All Out was carved partially out of what were once the Sitz and See Me runs, which racers may be more familiar with. Those runs were often the site of big local races and have served as the venue for the NASTAR Race of Champions, scheduled this year for Saturday.

Racers on All Out this week will be in for a different experience than they remember.

"They need to be looking at the terrain changes. There are some rolls we built in there, and they need to see the difference compared to what the hill used to be like," Lalive Carmichael said. "Be prepared if it's going from flat to steep or steep to flat or if there's a change in the course set, where it suddenly gets faster or slower or tight. Try to anticipate that."

NASTAR racing begins Thursday morning and continues into Friday. The winners from each division then get a crack at the overall championship at the Race of Champions at See Me on Saturday. A team race will also take place Saturday. Finally, a slalom race awaits Sunday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9