NASTAR: Setting a New Standard

By John Fry

NASTAR, the world's largest recreational racing program, began 50 years ago when this editor wanted to introduce the equivalent of golf's par to the sport of skiing.

The environment for people learning to ski has varied little over the years. Ungainly tip-crossing neophytes are herded into classes of eight to a dozen students. After a day, or perhaps five days, they emerge skilled enough to achieve what they want: to descend the mountain on pleasant trails, while enjoying the scenery and the company of friends. 

Most recreational skiers are like golfers who play a round without keeping score, or tennis players happily lobbing the ball back and forth across the net.

Beginning as editor-in-chief of SKI Magazine in the spring of 1964, I worked across the hall from the editorial office of GOLF Magazine, whose editorial director I would become five years later. GOLF's editors relied heavily on supplying readers with tips to lower their handicaps. Golfers could relate their scores to a PGA player's sub-par round, or their own putting to Arnold Palmer's challenge of sinking a 10-footer. How great it would be, I thought, if I could ratchet up SKI's newsstand sales using the same appeal! How great it would be if it were to become a goal of ski instruction!

To read the rest of this story, see the January-February 2018 issue of Skiing History magazine. To read the digital edition online, you must be a member of ISHA. Not a member? Join today!