RUMFORD — A local man who has been cross-country skiing for more than 75 years is still active in the club he helped create in 1936.
Wendall "Chummy" Broomhall was born Dec. 3, 1919, and helped bring a cross-country skiing world championship competition to Rumford. Broomhall helped form the Chisholm Ski Club and donated 300 acres after World War II to the club, which helped form Black Mountain of Maine.
He still volunteers at Black Mountain.
"He even helps to clear trails with the skidder," said Jim Carter, general manager for Black Mountain of Maine.
Broomhall attributes the success of Black Mountain and Chisholm Ski Club's cross-country skiing reputation to its volunteers.
"Without our amazing volunteers we wouldn't be able to do anything," he said. "We charge entry fees, but 97 percent goes back into improving the venue."
In 1950, Rumford hosted the world cross-country ski championships. The event was originally scheduled for Lake Placid, but because of poor snow conditions the event was moved to Rumford.
With 56 hours' notice, the residents of Rumford and Broomhall helped to prepare and successfully hold the event.
Broomhall said he remembered before the war when the ski jumps and cross-country events were held in town.
"It was quite a big thing," he said. "We had a carnival, and a snow queen. People came from all around."
The club has hosted multiple major events since then, including NCAA Cross Country Skiing Championships and the 1996 National Junior Olympics.
Broomhall has been a large influence on the sport in Rumford. He ran the junior cross-country skiing program for more than 30 years and was a cross-country coach.
"Its a challenging sport and kids have to be in good condition," he said. "You can't just sit at home and push buttons."
Broomhall learned about the sport when he was 10.
"It was a Finnish guy who worked on the farm for my dad," Broomhall said. "He would go out and cross-country ski in the field and I thought it looked like fun."
Broomhall joined the high school cross-country ski team when he was 15 and has been skiing competitively since.
During World War II, he was deployed with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy.
"We trained soldiers to live in the mountains and did some ski patrol," he said. "We also skied in our off-time for pleasure."
Broomhall went on to compete in the 1948 and 1952 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier. He designed cross-country trails for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, Calif., and for the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y., and served as chief of competition.
Broomhall was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1981.
This year, Black Mountain will host the U.S. cross-country championships Jan. 2-8.
"It's only a little club and a little mountain, but we do big things," Broomhall said.