Another class of excellence

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The Maine Ski Hall of Fame Committee announced the Class of 2010, which will be inducted at Lost Valley on Friday, Oct. 22. The class includes a pair of Olympic skiers, an internationally known ski journalist, a national freestyle champion, an innovative instructor and U.S. Ski team coach, and a pair of outstanding high school coaches. This year’s group increases the total of Maine skiers in the Hall of Fame to 72 individuals and one couple recognized since the Hall’s inaugural induction banquet in 2003.

Maine has had a skier in every Winter Olympics since 1948 and many others have made the U.S. Ski team. In addition the state has a long list of skiers who built our ski areas, developed equipment, erected lifts, created grooming equipment, served as coaches, ski instructors and devoted entire lives to creating what is today an industry that brings over $300 million annually to Maine’s mountain regions. The Maine Ski Hall of Fame was formed to recognize the contributions of these skiers. The Hall is a division of the Ski Museum of Maine which is located in Kingfield above the Sugarloaf Ski Shop. On display are Maine ski products, brochures, posters, ads, emblems, pins and patches from the state’s ski areas, including a number that have disappeared. A plaque lists each class inducted into the Hall of Fame to date and program books from previous banquets document their accomplishments.

The two Olympians are an alpine skier and a cross country skier. Kirsten Clark would make it on her record in national championships alone, five Downhill titles, one super-G, and one combined. In addition to her 13 years as a member of the U.S. Team, the Raymond native stood on World cup podiums eight times, including one DH victory in 28 top-1o finishes. In 2003, she won a silver medal in the World Alpine Championships and skied in three Olympics. It’s the best Alpine record of any Maine skier.

Fryeburg’s Marcus Nash skied on the U.S. Cross Country team in two Olympics in nearly a decade on the team. His best international result was a gold medal along with teammate Justin Wadsworth in the Goodwill Games at Lake Placid in 2000. Nash was a nine-time U.S. Champion at various distances.

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Most Maine skiers have heard of Mort Lund, whose ski writing career started in 1954 with Sports Illustrated, but how many know he grew up in Augusta and graduated from Bowdoin College? He went on to write for Ski Magazine on every aspect of the sport, covering Olympics, short-ski teaching, GLM and working with PSIA. His books include, “The Skier’s World,” “The Skier’s Bible,” “The Ski Book” and more. For more than three decades, he was SKI’s leading writer. He is one of the most prolific ski journalists in the world and continues as editor of “Skiing Heritage,” the first U.S. nationwide history journal published under the auspices of the International Skiing History Association.

Bernard “Ben” Paradis has been described as the “glue” that held the ski community together in the St. John Valley. As a coach for Fort Kent High School for 26 years, his teams won five state titles in Classes A and C. He developed numerous state champion skiers and won over 20 Aroostook championships, all while serving on the board of Lonesome Pine Ski Trails.

John Atwood’s career in skiing spanned a lifetime, skiing on the University of New Hampshire ski team from 1941 to1943, and as a second lieutenant with the 10th Mt. Division in Italy from 1943 to 1945. Following the war, he skied on the U.S. Army ski team in Europe before returning to UNH from 1947 to 1949. In 1962, he founded the Fryeburg Academy Ski Program, developing one of the state’s top ski teams over the next 20 years and winning the state Class A title in 1978. He also found time to serve on the Ski Patrol at Pleasant Mountain for more than 20 years.

If freestyle dkiing had been part of the Olympics a couple of decades before it was recognized, Maine might have had a gold medalist a lot earlier. Joan MacWilliams, (Now Dolan) skied out of Sugarloaf and dominated the sport, winning five National Championships in seven years on the U.S. Team. She started in the Sugarloaf Masters Program in the early 70s and went on to win her first national title in 1976 as a freshman in high school. In 1979, Joan represented the U.S. in the first ever FIS-sanctioned freestyle competition and won the combined title. Had it not been for a horrific crash in the 1983 national freestyle championships, she might have gone on to win many more titles. Instead, she turned to coaching and has produced a bunch of our countries’ top freestyle competitors at CVA.

While at Edward Little, Bob Harkins worked weekends as a patrolman at Sunday River and continued volunteering weekends while at the University of Maine. After graduation, he turned to coaching in the alpine racing program at Sunday River, beginning a teaching-and-coaching career that led to serving as athletic director and head ski coach at Gould Academy before becoming director of the racing program at Alpental Ski Area in Washington State. Next came a stint with the U.S. ski team, heading up the development program and working as alpine operations manager during the Calgary Olympics. From the team he returned to Sunday River where he was the key figure in creating the Perfect Turn Program — an innovative way to develop skiers, which is still used at Sunday River and Sugarloaf and has been franchised to other ski resorts.

These seven skiers are worthy additions to the roster of previous Hall of Famers and will be honored at the celebration in October. The eighth class to enter the Maine Ski Hall of Fame is expected to once again fill the dining room at Lost Valley.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.

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