A pair of major ski races will be staged later this winter in Maine’s Aroostook County near the state’s border with Quebec.
The Fort Kent Outdoor Center in the St. John Valley will host the New England Nordic Ski Association Eastern Cup High School Championships from March 15-17, and the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle will host the L.L. Bean U.S. Long Distance National Championships from March 28-April 2.
Top high school athletes from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York will compete at Fort Kent for the Eastern title. A training center for aspiring nordic and biathlon athletes, Fort Kent Outdoor Center has hosted numerous national and international events in both disciplines. The facility is located next to the Lonesome Pines Trails alpine ski area.
U.S. nordic team members are expected to compete in the Long Distance National Championships, including Jessie Diggins, who along with relay partner Kikkan Randall became the first Americans to win Olympic gold in nordic, which they accomplished during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Diggins trains in Stratton, Vt., in the summer with her club team SMST2.
SMS to get training ramp
Thanks to a yearlong collaboration with the engineering program at the University of Vermont, Stratton Mountain School’s Air Awareness Center will have a new indoor training ramp that will further aid SMS athletes training in slopestyle and mogul disciplines.
Through the Seed Project, UVM seniors in engineering programs are developing threedimensional designs for the new roller board/rollerski ramp that will be installed in the center once the necessary funds have been raised.
The ramps will be integrated into the existing features of SMS’s Air Awareness Center and will allow students to practice aerial maneuvers into the AAC’s foam pit. Hydraulic pistons will compress the takeoff to 33 degrees to fit the profile of a mogul ski jump and extend to 45 degrees to allow a higher trajectory for slopestyle.
A scaled ramp model is being provided to SMS for fundraising purposes. The finished design will be delivered to SMS by the UVM Seed team in late winter 2019.
Okemo restaurants slated for upgrades
Okemo Mountain Resort’s two onmountain restaurants, Sugar House and Summit Lodge, will get upgrades as part of Vail Resorts’ recently announced twoyear, $35 million commitment for improvements during 2019-20 for its resort holdings in Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington State.
The renovations will offer new concepts and menus, as well as an updated look and feel to interior finishes and furnishings. The company also will invest in planning and approvals for upgrades at Mount Sunapee, although no specific projects were disclosed.
Located just uphill of the Sunburst Six chairlift, the Sugar House Lodge Café specializes in Vermont specialty foods, soups, made-to-order salads and snacks, plus an all-new Thai noodle bowl station. In addition to its views, the Summit Lodge features country cooking with special offerings on the weekends and holidays, Main fare includes burgers, chicken, soups, fresh fruit, muffins, coffee, hot chocolate and other daily specials.
New England Ski Museum wins award
The New England Ski Museum, based in Franconia, N.H., received the Steward of Skiing History Award during a ceremony last month in Manchester Center, Vt. This is the second time the award has been bestowed upon an organization by the International Skiing History Association. Previously, ISHA presented the award to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum.
The award honors museums and other organizations that share the heritage, history and legacy of skiing with the world. ISHA’s first Steward of Skiing History Award recognized the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum, based in Ishpeming, Mich.
“Often the work of organization and preservation takes place behind the scenes, and it is heartening to have ISHA understand and acknowledge the museum’s role in this important aspect of our mission,” said Jeff Leich, NESM executive director.
“With its academic-quality historical research and more than 26,000 curated items in its collections, the New England Ski Museum is an incomparably valuable institution,” said Seth Masia, ISHA president. “Whatever we can do to support their work supports all of us who hold the sport’s history so close to our hearts.”
Accolades for North Conway
North Conway, N.H., has been named “Best ski town” in the United States and second best in North America in the 2018 USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. Jackson Ski Touring Foundation was nominated among the top cross-country areas, while Stowe, Vt., was eighth on the top towns list.
Vermont Adaptive honors volunteers
Four volunteers have been honored by Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports as Volunteers of the Year for 2018. Phil Crowell of Plainfield, N.H., and Jackie Levine, Barry Whitworth and Ryan Kennedy, all of Burlington, Vt., were selected for the awards from among 400 dedicated volunteers who keep the organization moving forward. This year’s awards were presented as a tribute in honor of Jim Hutchinson, a Vermont Adaptive volunteer who left a legacy of empowerment to people of all abilities and commitment toward supporting the organization.
“Each year, there are a few individuals that shine,” said Tom Alcorn, senior program coordinator at Vermont Adaptive. “These folks are involved year-round with Vermont Adaptive in exemplary ways. They each represent the organization as a whole. We’ve had years where a dozen individuals were recognized and years where one single person stood out the most. Jim Hutchinson was the most dedicated volunteer Vermont Adaptive or any organization could hope for. I know he would be so proud of our accomplishments in what we have built over the past years.”
Whitworth and Levine volunteer at many Vermont Adaptive special events including the United States Association of Blind Athletes Winter Festival, the Vermont Adaptive Charity Ride presented by Long Trail Brewing, the Vermont 50 and many summer Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired events. They have been volunteers since 2006 and Special Olympics coaches for more than 10 years.
Crowell is one of the few volunteers who arrives early for a lesson on a regular basis, not only to test the snow conditions but also to prepare for his lessons for the day. He’s a confident lead instructor on most lesson types, specializes in working with participants with autism and developmental disabilities and is a strong assist instructor on all other disciplines.
“He goes the extra mile to ensure our participants are safe, having fun and always learning,” said Alcorn. “He revels in the joy of his students as they progress in skiing, cycling, paddling and just enjoying the outdoors. He’s even been known to sing beautifully on the lifts and while skiing at Pico and Killington, too.”
Kennedy is a former Vermont Adaptive intern turned volunteer instructor. He teaches full days on the weekends and helps with night lessons at Bolton Valley Ski Area.
“He is sensitive to the needs of our athletes and does everything in his power to help promote their independence and confidence in themselves,” said Kelly Walsh, program coordinator for Vermont Adaptive. “… Barely old enough to vote, he still prioritizes Vermont Adaptive despite that he is a full-time engineering student as well as a member of ROTC.”
Berkshires featured in ‘Lost’ book series
Jeremy Davis, founder of the New England and NorthEast Lost Ski Areas Project (www.nelsap.org), has just published the fifth book in his series, which documents the “Lost Ski Areas of the Berkshires.” In his work, Davis shines light on the Berkshires and the important role this Massachusetts mountain range has played as a winter sports paradise, with 44 ski areas arising from the 1930s to the 1970s. The Thunderbolt Ski Trail put the Berkshires on the map for challenging terrain. Major ski resorts like Brodie Mountain sparked the popularity of night skiing with lighted trails. All-inclusive resorts — such as Oak n’ Spruce, Eastover and Jug End — brought thousands of new skiers into the sport between the 1940s and 1970s.
Over the years, many of these ski areas faded away and are nearly forgotten. Davis brings these lost locations back to life, chronicling their rich histories and contributions to the ski industry.
Davis has authored four previous books: “Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains,” “Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont,” “Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks” and “Lost Ski Areas of the Northern Adirondacks,” with both Adirondacks books winning Skade Awards for outstanding regional ski history from ISHA.