Thomas, Parkites successful at NASTAR Championships
Thomas secured title in fourth attempt
April 4, 2017
When Park City resident Tom Thomas was standing in the starting gate, he lasered in on the course at Steamboat Ski and Resort. He was about to ski at his third consecutive NASTAR National Championships, held on Thursday and Friday, as the No. 1 seed in the Age 75-79 group.
The previous two years, he was also the top seed, but faltered his way to sixth- and fifth-place finishes. In those defeats, though, he learned how to effectively prepare himself.
"You do certain things when you get up to the start and you think and try to remember what the course is, what the rhythm is," Thomas said. "The more you concentrate, the more you calm down."
This year, he calmed himself down enough to secure a first-place finish in his age group. He was elated with the victory, but the win did not come without sacrifice.
"There were a lot of sleepless nights," Thomas said. "I was just thinking, 'I don’t want to mess this up, I don’t want to mess this up.' But it worked out."
Thomas, who competed in Masters Races in Park City for roughly 15 years, had a reason for his sleepless nights. Before ever getting involved in NASTAR, he suffered a broken pelvis and was wheelchair-bound for three months and out of work for a year. At his age, 75, he thought it might be the end of his competitive Masters skiing career.
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"That kind of really ended my race career," Thomas said. "I kept on skiing, of course. But I figured I wasn't going to race."
Then, four years ago, he was hired by Deer Valley to create and maintain the NASTAR course at the resort. Since he was there every day, it was easy for Thomas to get a run or two in to see how he compared with the country's best NASTAR skiers.
As he kept getting faster with each passing run, the idea of racing again began to look more and more realistic. NASTAR seemed to be the outlet to allow him to do so, since he was already working with the course every day.
Thomas finally grabbed the NASTAR title — dedicated to his dog Puccini, named after the famous composer — that's been eluding him the last three attempts.
"It was unbelievable," Thomas said of winning the title.
Thomas, however, was hardly the only Park City resident to make some noise at the NASTAR National Championships. In fact, the NASTAR team at Park City Mountain Resort, which consisted of 22 local skiers, took home second place just behind Aspen Mountain in the team results.
According to Bill Madsen, Director of NASTAR, there is somewhat of a rivalry between the two resorts, as the results were reversed between them last year.
Additionally, Eric Schlopy, a Park City native, and his family — which consisted of Spider, Mason, Marny, Dillon, Skye and Summer Schlopy, as well as Karl Kritz — won the four-plus person family team race at NASTAR Nationals over the weekend. The family team contained skiers of all ages; Spider being the youngest at 8 years old and Marny being the oldest at 71.