Nationals men’s and women’s 21 to 59-year-old platinum classes generally run together
and are among the most competitive. The courses have more grade and offset than public
NASTAR and are around four to eight seconds longer. Many skiers were on national teams
at one point or another and the pacesetters, whose times competitors race against for
handicaps, put the hammer down.
While confident in the start gate, I had one of those days where I felt as if I was put in a
slower skier’s body. I realized unless I borrowed Ligety’s ability the next day, my handicaps
would take me far out of contention. So I recalibrated my goals, thinking about how I
would change my line and skiing to drop as much time and handicap as possible.
After racing, I put on my free skis for a tour of Winter Park. I noticed the family race
team of Ed, Melissa, Ella, and Molly Dishong from Francestown, N.H., all competing in
platinum or gold classes. Daughters Ella and Molly told me in near unison their Nationals
goals were “to win and go fast.” Ed confirmed the girls’ alpine priorities: “We gave them
the choice of going to Disneyland or NASTAR Nationals, and they chose this.”