NASTAR is one of key pillars for young skiers looking to get into racing. As a recreational ski racing program at 115 resorts across the nation, it engages more than 165,000 racers each season. Often the pacesetters are legendary icons of skiing, and racers can use a handicap system to measure their times against top athletes. For many top ski racers, NASTAR was their first introduction to racing which lead to their careers.
On Monday, May 4, 2015, at the National Ski Areas Association annual convention in San Francisco, the announcement was made by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) President and CEO Tiger Shaw, along with Active Interest Media (AIM) President and CEO Andy Clurman, that the U.S. Ski Team and NASTAR, have entered into an agreement to raise the profile of ski racing in America under which the U.S. Ski Team will assume operational control of NASTAR. The integration with NASTAR is designed to capitalize on the success of U.S. Ski Team athletes, bringing greater awareness to the sport and value to the industry, while motivating participants of all ages to get involved in ski racing.
As a background, AIM presently owns NASTAR, SKI and Skiing magazines and Warren Miller Entertainment. The USSA is the parent organization of the U.S. Ski Team and manages grassroots, development and elite ski racing programs across America. NASTAR began in 1968 under the wings of SKI Magazine and its editor John Fry.
The USSA and AIM have executed a letter of intent, which includes the USSA assuming operational control of NASTAR beginning this year, including program and event management as well as sponsorship and media rights.
“Being able to integrate NASTAR directly into our programs will allow us to better include competitors of all ages, encouraging them to expand their participation in ski racing and connecting them with USSA clubs and racing system nationwide,” said Shaw. “It brings together two of the strongest brands in ski racing and will help us to not only engage a new generation of ski racers, but also to have significant impact by extending our brand to new fans and USSA members.”
The partnership is a vital part of the USSA’s efforts to activate more young skiers into the sport across America. It expects its integration with NASTAR to help grow awareness and to serve as a recruiting tool for the USSA’s 400+ local clubs across the country.
“Through our involvement for many years with NASTAR we’ve seen its potential in getting kids excited about the sport and creating a lifelong, family activity at ski resorts,” said Clurman. “The transition of program management from Active Interest Media to the U.S. Ski Team will bring benefit to all of us in the industry by associating the two brands together and making NASTAR a more distinct part of the Team’s athletic pipeline.”
U.S. Ski Team athletes like World Cup winner Steven Nyman, Olympic champions Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso, World Champion Daron Rahlves and U.S. champion Kaylin Richardson and others have played a role as NASTAR pacesetters or ambassadors. The Team plans to further integrate more athletes into the program, as well as keeping a strong focus on NASTAR’s biggest event, the NASTAR National Championships held each March.
“NASTAR is where most ski racers in America, including myself, were introduced to the thrill of going fast and competing on skis, by challenging our friends and family on the course,” said Olympic champion Ted Ligety. “NASTAR has always been a gateway to more competitive skiing so the partnership with U.S. Ski Team is an obvious one to help broaden the pathways to become passionate about this awesome sport.”
“We see great growth potential in NASTAR paired with the U.S. Ski Team brand,” said USSA Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet. “It’s a natural fit for our Team sponsors who want to reach a larger audience including the thousands of families with kids engaged in ski racing.”
Active Interest Media, with it’s industry-leading print titles and genre-defining feature film division, will continue to lead the promotional and marketing efforts for NASTAR in partnership with U.S. Ski Team. AIM will also become an official sponsor of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams and will activate its brands across the portfolio of opportunities at the USSA. The agreement enables both companies to not only leverage the NASTAR brand in and out of the ski and resort industries but also create opportunities for other partnerships.
The program will be administered through the USSA’s events department, which has a strong background in managing major national and international events. The USSA is presently engaged in an operations transition plan with AIM.