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Wolf Mountain (NEW VENUE!) Review

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#1 sfdean

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:25 PM


Describe yourself:
Racing background, best NASTAR NATIONALS Finish, LAST Year Ending Handicap/Class/Division

Class 2 49 year old club racer (not Masters’ quality.)  Best Nastar Nationals finish, 3rd place, forerunner of Gold medal division (misleading, since the first day’s race that year, set in fresh snow, allowed for running in a high tuck.  Actual turns I have more trouble with.)  Last year’s ending handicap: really embarassing due to running only a couple of races, and on the wrong day.  Was 18th out of 30 skiers in the 45-49 age class, Gold medal division, at last year’s nationals.  My typical handicaps range from 15-23 (with a few outliers running from 8 to Just Awful) depending on pacesetter, conditions, and my ability to find the front boot cuff.

Self Assessed Skiing performance level:

Athletic, goofy-looking, 18 handicap Nastar racer who skis a tight line after a powerful poling/skating start, with newly discovered boot alignment/canting issues that may finally excuse all that back seat driving.

Describe General First Impressions of Venue:

Terrific, friendly, easy to get to, on a fun hill that is more tactically interesting than most Nastar courses without being too challenging even for first time racers.  A welcome addition to the constellation of resorts running Nastar.  Utah is definitely catching up.


Outstanding.  In terms of resort location, Wolf Mountain is easy to get to, something like an hour and change from the Salt Lake City airport, and is definitely not crowded on Sundays.  (Many people in even much closer Ogden are in church.  Sshh.)  In terms of lift access to the race hill, it couldn’t be much better:  The lift allows you to get off at mid-mountain, a very quick trail over to the top of the race course for yo-yo skiing (and I never had a long lift line.)  You can get in a LOT of runs.  (Of a dozen Nastar hills I can think of, only Vail’s has better lift access, with its own poma lift.)  Or you can ride the lift all the way to the top to make some freeskiing turn between gate runs.


I was there on the first day they were open and doing pacesetter trials, when the course wasn’t open to the general public, so I don’t know what the signage is.

Registration Process:

Easy, but again my experience was at a pilot stage.

How were you greeted by the Staff:

A+.  This is the classic local friendly mountain.  Like Ski Cooper, but with oxygen in the air.

Staging Area, Line Up:

Plenty of room, and a big plus, because from the elevated start you can see the finish, so you know whether your buddy ahead finished or biffed, and you can see how much speed he’s carrying through the end.  (Morgan ripped it?  Dang.  I’ll have to start well…)

Well organized, roped, barriers, Start house:

Excellent.  Large run out area below, and the day I was there they put a horizontal ribbon/fence barrier above the side of the finish house for better safety, for those coming out of the side of the finish area or checking out their times rather than the uphill traffic.  Much appreciated.  Location nice, naturally minimizing the amount of “oops” cross traffic.  Big, visible time indicator.

Did you have to wear a number or could you just know it and run:

Could just run, but my day might not be typical.

Was the Starter enthusiastic?

Dual Course or Single:


Start Hill:

Perfect.  Raised start, good platform, nice ramp angle to get anyone going short flat section on top for poling/skating and warm up for the timid.  Not too visually intimidating for first timers, because what you see is the flat top and flat bottom from the start.

General comments on the track/hill itself:
Pitch, terrain changes, length, width, visibility, grooming, finish area, safety fencing

I’d actually call this an ideal Nastar hill:  Nice ramp immediately out of the raised start so everyone gets going.  A nice flat section on top to create a handicap differentiator for those who can really skate and pole out of the start.  (This, IMHO, is actually key for a successful Nastar hill.  The timid can reach the steeper section without carrying much speed, and have a great experience.  The aggressive can reach the steeper section carrying a lot more speed, and have a great experience.)  Then a nice break-over to a steeper section, finishing with a flatter section at the bottom that allows for setting some relatively straight gates to tuck through to the finish area.  It even has a little side hill, making the left and right turns different.  You can learn a lot from a hill like this, and there are lots of fun tactical alternatives for the course setters.

Course Set:
Type course, Modified GS, GS, Slalom? Straight, Offsets, Vertical Distance, rhythmical, a- rhythmical, too close together, too close to the fences, challenging, other

It was a pretty standard Nastar set, for when Nastar is set right:  Rythmical, modified GS, less challenging than either a GS or slalom set, with no big kick-out gates, plenty of room on both sides (and nothing visually intimidating in either direction) with the last four gates on the flats set straighter so you could run them in a high tuck/modified low racing position.  I happened to run it in short borrowed 17 meter sidecut skis 10 cm shorter than my usual length (long story) rather than my usual 18 meter sidecut Atomic SX-11 cheater skis at 180 cms, and they (the borrowed skis) seemed just about right for arc to arc skiing.  Others with a better numerical flair for eyeballing vertical distance and offset would have to give you more specifics, but I’d say just right—not too turny, not too fast, no mean surprises.

Pacesetter’s handicap:

6.5 and one fast dude at that.

Your handicap:

18.  But I continue to harbor delusions of adequacy.

Final comments

Given that they just started running Nastar at Wolf Mountain, as a new venue, they won’t have many results by the deadline, and you, dear reader, are one of the few that know this, so this hill would be a great place to go if you want to qualify for nationals, if that’s your thing..

Would you recommend this venue to others?

Absolutely yes.

Rating: 5 Stars Best, 0 Stars Worst

Great, fun hill, great access, friendly staff with a course that’s just right for fun Nastar racing.  Assuming that the signage/registration/timely results posting works well (and that stuff’s not trivial) I’d say, provisionally, 5 stars.  

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#2 Gary Dranow

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:22 AM

Thanks for the review Dean!  

Pacesetting for Wolf was a pleasure and I mirror all your comments about their staff, an extremely friendly helpful environment with a laid back atomoshphere.  Just plain fun.  

Night Owl, their NASTAR hill (and I suspect 1 of their NASTAR Hills as they develop their program) is one of the best little hills I've encountered.  Technical for the racers going fast and safe for anyone who wants to try their luck at the sticks and timer.

I believe as the season moves on and we get to play on that hill in all kinds of conditions from soft as we had to hard as nails, we'll see Night Owl hold its own.  

Cap Time is a' comin' and congratulations to Wolf Mountain Resort for joining the NASTAR family of racing venues.  We've got a great staff to work with that I'm sure will keep an watchful eye on their product.

Setting the "PAR TIME", hitting the Side Hill on Night Owl, EeeiHaaww!
Progessors?  Can't be beat wink.gif

"Developing Faster Racers is MY Passion"


NASTAR Race Record / MASTERS Race Record

#3 songfta

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 08:58 AM

I love reading about Wolf Mountain's use of Night Owl as a race hill, because I remember racing a USSA IMD South Series race there many years ago, back when the place was known as Nordic Valley.  It was a fun little hill back in the day (before they had snowmaking), and I'd imagine it's better today.