WINTER PARK - A 10-day ski racing festival at Winter Park Resort began Thursday, including the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships, the Return of the Champions Family Challenge team race and U.S. Ski Team reunion, the U.S. Ski Team Pro-Am Team Competition and the U.S. Alpine Championships. The event is designed to rally American alpine racers, and recreational racers and fans can meet, race and compete with current and former U.S. Ski Team athletes.NASTAR ChampionshipNASTAR racers must qualify for the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships within their age category, division and discipline at any NASTAR resort. The overall Champions, fastest male and female, will earn forerunner positions for the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships GS and a trip to a U.S. Ski Team training camp.Events include Men's and Women's slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G. Top athletes from over 400 U.S. Ski Team club programs and the U.S. Ski Team will converge on Winter Park for this event.Family Challenge and team reunionThe Return of the Champions Family Challenge and U.S. Ski Team Reunion is a team race where family members can compete as a team against other family teams. In addition, the event is designed as a U.S. Ski Team reunion so that alumni can bring their children and parents and compete with their families.Teams must have a minimum of three family members and each team member will score points for their team within their age and gender group. Family Teams do not need to qualify for the race but pre-registration is required.Athletes expected to attend include Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin, Stacey Cook, Picabo Street, Heidi Voelker, Doug Lewis, and AJ Kitt. Ski Team Pro-AmThe U.S. Ski Team Pro-Am is a team event where race league teams and teams of friends from across the country can compete for a National Championship team title. To add to the excitement, each team will add a U.S. Ski Team athlete to the roster. Team captains will select their U.S. Ski Team athlete the night before the race at a welcome reception.Each team member will score points for their team based on the best handicap they earn in their age group. Each team must have a minimum of six team members. Family Teams do not need to qualify for the race but pre-register is required. Alpine Championships The Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships serve as the culmination of a five-month season crossing continents and countries so America's best alpine skiers could go head-to-head with the world. Top athletes from over 400 U.S. Ski Team club programs throughout the U.S. and the U.S. Ski Team will converge on Winter Park for the five-day event. Among those expected to compete are four-time World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn, three-time World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, and three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso - all of whom are Olympic gold medalists. As part of the event there will be live music from by New Oleans Funk & Bayonu Soul artists, The Soul Rebels Brass Band and Marc Broussard. And, a screening of the latest Warren Miller film, "Like There's No Tomorrow."
Lindsay Vonn in town, celebrating the sport of alpine racing
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