Together, skiers chase NASTAR glory | SteamboatToday.com

Together, skiers chase NASTAR glory

— Skiing racing hasn't been much a part of Linda Whittle's life these past seven years.

When she lived in Steamboat Springs, it was. She'd race throughout the winter in the Town Challenge racing series, often enough that she made plenty of friends there, including Steamboat ski racing regulars such as Pat Arnone and Tim Magill.

She even raced in the NASTAR National Championships when the event took place in Steamboat from 2006 to 2009.

While she didn't quit when she moved to the East Coast, she wasn't able to race nearly as often.

When she saw the NASTAR National Championships were returning to Steamboat, however, getting back became a priority

"I made it a focus," she said, building the trip up both as a return to Steamboat and a birthday celebration for her boyfriend and fellow racer, Rolf Meyer.

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"I said, 'We have to go back to Steamboat for this,'" she said. "I love it here."

Back in town this week for the first time since her cross-country move, Whittle called some old friends and rounded up some new, and together, they created Team Oke-Boat, a combination of where she lives now, near Okemo Mountain Resort in the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains, and Steamboat.

She enlisted a team of eight, including Vermonters Meyer, Max Arredondo and Florin Castor. For Steamboaters, she reached out to Arnone and his daughter, Tess Arnone, Kris Hagenbuch and Magill, who works at a wax tech in town and tuned the team's skis daily.

"These guys really helped me learn to ski," Whittle said.

Together, they proved to have medal-worthy chemistry, placing third in the platinum division of the "friends" team race on the National Championship's penultimate day in Steamboat.

Saturday highlighted both sides of NASTAR, a ski race organization tailored toward amateur racers around the nation.

In the morning, the best racers from Thursday and Friday's races competed in the Race of Champions. The winners from each of the more than 200 divisions — divided according to age, skill and equipment — got a chance to race it out to determine the overall champion.

Steamboat Springs fared well there, with local ski racer Danny Elkins winning the men's race. Fellow Steamboater Jim Kohler was third.

"It was difficult," Kohler said. "The snow conditions were tough, loose, granular balls, and it was hard to engage a turn, so you had to know how to jam your turns."

The afternoon was an entirely different game, however. That brought the team races, one section for families and one for groups of friends, all racing through giant slalom courses set up in Bashor Bowl.

Whittle and the Oke-Boats were among those collecting medals on the team side.

On the family side, one of the top awards — the gold medal in the three-generation family division — went to the Casey/Superczynski dynasty, from Maryland.

The team was led, in a sense, by 72-year old patriarch Tom Casey, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

But even he acknowledged the leader of the family's skiing effort was more likely his 9-year old grandson, Tyler Superczynski.

Casey is a life-long skier, but only started racing when Tyler did, six years ago.

The family is now six deep when it comes to ski racers, with Casey's daughter, Jaime, and her husband, Matt Superczynski, and their three children, Tyler, Claire, 7, and Brielle, 4.

"The key was going fast," Tyler said, grinning. "It was to stay high, to take a high line."

They train mostly at Liberty Mountain Resort in southern Pennsylvania, about a 90-minute drive from their home.

They've now made a vacation out of the NASTAR National Championships for all six years Tyler's been racing, and on Saturday, they won the three-generation championship for the second-consecutive year.

"This is a great event," Casey said. "The venues are always a lot of fun, and we see friends every year. We just have a great time."

The NASTAR championships wrap up today with slalom races starting at 10 a.m. on the Bashor course.

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