Last week, NASTAR racer, Jed Owen wrote us to thank us for a great week at NASTAR Nationals in response to the article Megan Ganim wrote titled, "When Dedication is Everything at NASTAR Nationals". We wanted to share his words with you because we believe he sums up what it means to be a NASTAR racer. He couldn't have explained why NASTAR racers love what they do more eloquently. Below is Jed's Letter to the Editor. 


Dear Megan,

I liked your article on the Nastar website about dedication at Nationals because it speaks to the heart of why we do Nastar.  There are days we are out there in January in sub-zero degree weather…racing, training, and trying to get better.  There are days, like last week, when it is raining and the courses are not the best.  But ski racing is an outdoor sport and most of us do it just because we love it.  Last week I spoke with Bobby Roland from Ashville, NC and we talked about just how much we love running a course; the fun, the challenge, the chance to measure ourselves against ourselves. 

Many times last week I heard comments from other racers that the great fun of Nationals is meeting people.  Our team, Ski More Gates, is comprised of people from WI, MN, OR and CA.  We are friends who have come together because we have such fun doing this, all of whom started racing for fun and who met doing Nastar.  None of us are great racers but we have such fun racing and laughing together.  I met the Gloster brothers, Mark and Dean, at Nationals several years back. I met Bobby Roland and many others who have become friends.  Nancy Simpson and I met at the 2014 Nastar Regional Championship at Welch Village (yep…romance on the race course! Sounds like a 1950’s B-movie!).  Sure, some days we dream of what it might be like to race on the World Cup but I am pretty sure the US Ski team is not looking for 57-year old men!  We do it for the love of the sport and the friends…and loved ones…we have met along the way; people who share the same passion who we may never otherwise meet.

We also get to hang out with World Cup race winners, Olympic medalists, and other great racers.  I am often asked why that is such a big deal.  I tell them that it is like running pass patterns for Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Or playing golf with Tiger Woods. What other sport gives you that opportunity?  And the Pace Setters are down to earth, humble and gracious.  Several years ago, AJ Kitt was at an event at my home hill, Granite Peak.  It was -8 degrees early in the morning and he was running a race clinic for us.  Then, when we raced it was all the way up to 5 degrees with -15 degrees wind chill and, due to the cold, several gates got broken.  When our race director asked for someone to bring gates down, AJ volunteered without hesitation and was out the door (from a heated start shack) before anyone else could say a word.  A 4-time Olympian was doing course maintenance for us…local racers!  How cool is that?!  We get to sit on a chairlift with Marco Sullivan to talk about his favorite course (Wengen) and why he likes it so much.

Nastar has given me a goal as well; a reason to get back on skis and back in the start house.  Three years ago I broke my neck doing a local race.  Two years ago I tore my Achilles in a fall and 10 months ago had total hip replacement.  When my hip surgeon told me I should not ski again, let alone race, I told him, "That is not going to happen.  I'll continue to do what I love."  Having the goal of a Nationals medal in GS was my motivation to get back in the start.  Nastar has made me a better skier and a better racer.  As a former racer, I know you understand that dynamic. 

But most importantly, we had fun because Nastar and racing is in our blood and in our hearts. We had ok runs and great runs (there are no bad runs, by the way).Yes, we were out there last week in the freezing rain, the wind, the snow.  We literally poured water out of our boots at the end of the day.  

Thank you for covering it for us and for being there with us in the rain.  Because of your efforts and those of Bill Madsen and the Squaw Valley race crew we get to do something we love.  So thank you, Megan, for supporting us in passion.


Jed Owen