Around the Region: Bode back, better than ever
by Tony Chamberlain/
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of New England Ski Journal.
It only seems like Bode Miller is pushing 50 by now. After all, it was nearly 16 years ago that the tall, rawboned kid who spent his childhood shredding the steeps of Cannon Mountain, broke into the national ski racing stage with a podium finish (third) at the National Championship slalom at Sugarloaf, Maine. And two years later he saw his first Olympic competition in Nagano, Japan.
It doesn’t take a fanatic ski race fan to sense that since then Miller’s career has been a roller coaster ride marked by equal parts negative publicity and towering success. And it happened in the right order, the order of the most compelling sports dramas: first the fall on the face, then the redemption.
No need to revisit the horrible year of 2006 when, following the infamous “60 Minutes” interview (“skiing wasted”) Miller seemed to stumble his way through the Olympic games in Torino. And two years later, just when his career seemed to have whimpered out with inconsistent results, then injuries leading to a shortened season, the Fanconia Flash caught fire once again.
By the end of last season, Miller at 32, stood on top of the ski racing world with a matched set of Olympic medals (gold, silver, and bronze) from the Vancouver games, and an undisputed title as the greatest male ski racer in U.S.history.
So that would be it, right? A victory lap into the sunset, then life on easy street…
Well, no. Bode Miller always writes his own script, and so at 33 in October, he is back for more on the World Cup circuit. It’s not even as though he thought about it very hard. Last July, he was the first of all U.S. skiers to return his agreement of intent to race.
From an early race in Levi, Finland, it appears that Miller has dropped some weight in this summer’s training, which head coach Sasha Rearick says should help him in the technical races and tight gates, where his career actually began.
“Bode has achieved great things,” says Rearick.
Perhaps some insight is to be found about Miller’s motivation in the thoughts he wrote while recuperating from injuries the season before last. “Bringing along the next group of U.S.racers and working and hanging out with the guys on the U.S. team is something I’m interested in.”
Wildcat Mountainchanging hands
An old New England favorite, Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch (NH) has become one more in a number of ski areas changing hands this season. In late October, Peak Resorts of Wildwood, Missouri purchased Wildcat from long time owner Pat Franchi, adding it to a local portfolio that includes Attitash, Crotched, and Mt. Snow. Originally carved out by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, the first Wildcat Trail opened for those willing to skin up the soaring peak that looks across Pinkham Notch into the cirques of Mt. Washington. Then, 25 years later, with a gondola and T-bar, Wildcat opened for its first season of lift-served skiing. Now served by a high-speed detachable quad, The Wildcat Express, the area remains one of New England’s legends. Now joined with nearby Attitash corporately, the two areas are considering package lift tickets. Meanwhile, Tenney Mountain (NH) will go on the auction block December 15. According to records, the ski area owes some $170,000 in back taxes dating to 2008. The ski area’s 445 acres is up for grabs, as are three other lots that abut the mountain. The auction company is www.josephfinn.com.
Mainer Parisienopens race program
After winning the final World Cup race of 1991 at Waterville Valley, followed by competition at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, Maine’s Julie Parisien seemed to have dropped out of the ski world.
But she’s back. Joining up with her old coach Tim Lavallee, Parisien has announced the launching of the Mt. Abram Le Club de Sport Lavallee/Parisien, a program to promote ski racing at the high school and middle school ages. The aim is to help young ski racers realize their full potential. Parisien, who was one of the top skiers on the international World Cup circuit, said the Le Club de Sport is aimed to supplement school programs at Abram, one of the most dedicated areas in the east to developing ski racers.
Ascutney continueslooking for a buyer
One of the historic Vermont classic ski areas, Mt. Ascutney in Brownsville, has announced that it will not open this month as it owners continue to try to find a buyer for any or all of the ski area. Operations in future years also are doubtful. Last summer, Steve and Susan Plausteiner, who bought Ascutney out of bankruptcy 17 years ago, and managed the operations since then, sold their share of the business to partner Dan Purges, who has been attempting to sell assets including the detachable quad and other lifts. So far, there have been no takers. Purges has told the Holiday Inn Vacations timeshare operation of the decision not to open Ascutney, and homeowners and timeshare guests have been given discounted tickets to nearby areas such as Killington, Okemo, and Mt. Sunapee. Even if a buyer suddenly appeared, it’s doubtful when or if Ascutney would be fully operational again, since little maintenance has been done to the infrastructure.