Sunday, February 21, 2016

Skibike Snowbike NASTAR

by G. Kunkel

Two years ago, NASTAR citizen ski racing added a snowbike division.  So now skibikers can race and win medals just like skiers, snowboarders, telemarkers, and physically challenged racers.

The rules do not specify equipment so I think almost anything is fair game under the heading "snowbike".  Skibobs, peg skibikes, and three-ski bikes are all legal to race in this division.

Snowbikes are separated by gender and age in the snowbike division.  On the GS course, snowbikes get a (-50) handicap.  On the SL course the handicap is (-60).

The standard race course is 350 meters in length with 18-22 meters between gates.  The gates are offset 4-8 meters.  Depending upon the terrain, there are between 17-22 gates to go around.  Most courses take 23 seconds to run.  There is variability between resorts.

I did not get a class on Monday so I decided to get some free riding in.  While on the Prospector lift, I saw there were gates set on the Winter Park NASTAR course.  Upon further investigation, they were running races from 11am to 3pm.

It only costs employees $5 to race unlimited races while it's $10 for the general public.  After trying to remember my NASTAR race number, I handed over my $5 and filled out a daily paper entry form.

As I'd never raced my skibike before, I was unsure how to approach the gates.  The race crew was unsure how to run my race.  They decided in the end to let me run the course by myself in case I crashed.  They didn't want me to run into anybody on the other course.

For the first run, caution and strategy were the main objectives.  Starting gate strategy was not even considered.  Not hitting the gates or crashing were the goals.

The timer told me to go so I left the starting area and triggered the wand.  The first few gates were pretty easy as I had not built up any speed.  As the terrain steepened the gates came much quicker.

I soon realized that running the gates was almost the same as running them on a snowboard.  One had to turn above the gate and complete the turn at the gate.  Upon rounding the gate one had to immediately shoot for the turning point for the next gate.

Upon completion of the race course, I executed a nice hockey stop and waited for my time and what kind of medal I had won.  As I hadn't really been pushing things, I didn't expect much.

The announcer said congratulations announced my time and said I had won a gold medal.  That was unexpected.  If I pushed things on another run, I could win a platinum medal.  I never won one of those on a snowboard.

So I had to go again and again.   The next three runs were all platinum medal winning runs of the yellow course.

To mix things up I decided to try the green course.   That was a silver run.

Since that was not the direction I wished to move, my attentions moved on to the original goal of going to the terrain park and working on my skillz.   After some jumps and a run through the half pipe, I headed to the Competition Center Office to collect my medal.

My NASTAR Platinum medal
Normally medals are kept in the race shack.  They were out of platinums and silvers thus the trip to the office.

So, at the end of the day, I had a pleasant distraction for $5.  I also qualified for the NASTAR National Championships in Steamboat Springs in March.  Now if I only had the $199 for the entry fee.   Anyone want to sponsor me?  I'm happy to wear your colors/logos on the course and the winners podium when I collect medals.  And I do win medals at Steamboat.

My NASTAR Gold Medal from 2009 National Championships

© 2016 G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Google

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from Durango!!! Donna and I raced at the NASTAR National Championships as the first skibikers/snowbikers to do so. It was a blast. Great people. Great event. We raced on course with the snowboarders. Here is a slide show of our adventure. .

    Get Winter Park to sponsor you. With the generous handicap snowbikers receive you could really help them in the team competition.

    We're going again this year. Hope we see you there.

    Mike Sparkman RPh
    Purgatory Resort


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