End of an era for three generations of skiers

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RUMFORD — “Skiing has always been in my life,” said Lynn Gould as she reflected on her family’s involvement at Black Mountain. At the end of the ski season, that involvement will end.

Lynn is the daughter of Ray Broomhall, who has coached Nordic skiing for more than 50 years. He will retire at the end of the season.

Lynn is also the mother of Kristin Gould, who is a senior at Mountain Valley High School. She raced her last race as a high school student on Feb. 20.

The family and their story come together at Black Mountain.

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Broomhall began coaching Nordic skiing as a coach in the Torger Tokle League. From there, he coached in the Bill Koch League. Then for at least 20 years off and on, he has worked with the Mountain Valley High School Nordic team. He’s also helped out with Special Olympics.

In his spare time from coaching, he has donated countless hours to Black Mountain. He has taken care of the cross-country trails and set the trails for racing.

Broomhall said, “I’ll be 79 on March 1. It’s time to call it quits. Hopefully, they can find someone younger. It takes a lot of time preparing skis and waxing them.”

That’s where Lynn entered the picture as an assistant to the coach.

She explained, “I was there to do whatever Dad or the team needed. I have waxed skis, passed out bibs prior to races, given an encouraging word or two, run here and there for whatever Dad or the team needed.”

Kristin joined the girl’s Nordic team because of her grandfather.

“I have been skiing since I was three,” Kristin said. “Nordic skiing is a family tradition. When my grandfather was thinking about coaching again, I told him I would ski for the team if he coached.”

So she began to competitively ski as a sophomore at MVHS.

Even though her father remembers Lynn favoring basketball as a high school student, Lynn recalled, “Prior to playing basketball, I spent my weekends on the road traveling to such places as Lake Placid, N.Y.; Vermont and other areas of New England racing in the Torger Tokle program.”

Regardles of the sport, she was there when he returned to coaching the high school team.

Lynn said, “Skiing has always been in my life so when Dad and Kris became involved it only made sense for me to jump on board as well. Besides when the two of them started, Dad told me I needed to practice up on my waxing techniques if I was going to be the assistant.”

Both women are clearly thrilled to be working with Broomhall.

Kristin said, “It was a lot of fun. It gave us time together and made us closer than we already were. I have learned a lot about skiing and our family’s history in the sport from him.”

Lynn added, “It is incredible. To have the opportunity to watch him interact with the kids and share his knowledge of the sport instills an even greater appreciation for the man that he is. It also gives me a greater appreciation of the family history that we have in the Nordic world.”

That family history includes Broomhall’s mother who raised 15 children and lived to nearly 100 years old. Six of her sons skied. Perhaps the best known of the skiing brothers is Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall who skied on the U.S. Ski Team from 1947 to 1954 and competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.

Brother William “Cy” Broomhall started the Junior Chisholm Ski Club in Rumford. Older brother Charles “ Slim” was also a ski coach and, along with Chummy, served in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army in Italy. Erlon “Bucky” competed in his younger years as well as coaching at schools in Mexico, Fryeburg Academy and in Vermont. Younger brother Philip “ Butch” won the Junior Nationals in the early 50s. Charles, Wendall, Erlon and Ray have all been inducted to the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.

Generations of the Broomhall family are active members of the Chisholm Ski Club, which volunteers and runs races at Black Mountain.

With the long history of skiing, it might be hard to give it up.

Broomhall said with a smile, “I’m not giving up altogether. I’ll still help out. The mountain is run by volunteers and we couldn’t do it without them. But these people aren’t spring chickens – most are 75 and older.”

As the era comes to a close, Lynn summed up her father’s contribution, “There aren’t too many people in town that don’t know Dad and the hard working person that he is. He is a very humble man and would give you the shirt off his back without giving it a second thought. His passion for coaching and working with kids is something that he takes deep to heart. Though he would never admit it, he gets just as much out of being with the team as they get from him.”

Kristin added about her grandfather, “He is an amazing man. He does a lot for his family and community. No matter where you go people have heard of or know him. He has a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor. He is very kind hearted and lovable.”

What more could a man ask for – a lifetime of involvement in a sport he loves and the love and admiration of his family.

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