After today, skiers will have only a handful of choices if they want to ride lifts to ski. The weather and skier turnout will determine how many lifts will stay open. Even the season at Tuckerman Ravine could end early after a limited snow, but the diehards will make the climb and ski into June.
The rest of us will pursue other sports on sunny days. As this season melts into memory, we do have one more bit of news, and it concerns the kickoff to the next season.
For three years now, the Maine skiing community has gathered at Lost Valley at the end of October to induct a new class into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. The next banquet is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 27, and the selection committee has announced the names.
They are a mix of founders, competitors, volunteers, coaches, area operators and the first ski journalist to be named. Each in his own way has contributed to the rich skiing heritage of our state.
The list alphabetically starts with Andover’s Charles Akers. At Andover High, Akers won state cross country championships in 1955 and 1957. He was an NCAA champion at the University of Maine and went on to compete in the 1960 Olympics in cross country and returned in 1964 in biathlon.
Ray Broomhall has devoted a lifetime to skiing, primarily cross country. His association with the Chisolm Ski Club began as a competitor and has continued for more than 50 years, as a coach, cross-country race official and volunteer. He has worked on races at the local, national and international levels from the 50s to the 2002 Olympics.
Fletcher Brown’s ski history stretches from 1934 to the present, and includes being one the first ski instructors at Cannon Mountain before and after World War II. He was at the beginning of organizing Maine skiing and worked with Amos Winter both on Bigelow and Sugarloaf, where he helped cut Winter’s Way.
If it has anything to do with skiing, it seems as if John Christie has done it. Starting with a standout college racing career, he continued as a ski patrolman, moved into management as general manager at Sugarloaf and later at Mount Snow and returned to Maine as owner of Saddleback. A tireless promoter of the sport, Christie somehow skis 50 days a season.
Norm Cummings won Maine interscholastic jumping championships as a senior at Edward Little in 1952 and went on to All-American honors at Middlebury College. In an era when Maine was turning out many top ski jumpers, Cummings won more Maine Class A and B championships than any other jumper, was invited to five tryouts for Olympic and World Championships and went on to coach high school jumpers and work as a judge at various jumping events.
As a student at Bates College, Dick Gould won the Maine Intercollegiate Cross Country title in 1937. From 1938 to 1961, he coached four events at Farmington High School where he mentored many outstanding skiers. From 1952 to 1961, his teams were consistently among the tops in Maine, winning state titles in 1955 and 1957 and compiling numerous top-three and runner-up finishes at New England and Eastern levels.
Irv Kagan didn’t discover the sport of skiing until his late 30s, but made up for it with a deep involvement in freestyle skiing. When Masters skiing evolved into freestyle in the late 60s and early 70s standards, he recognizing the need for uniformity. Kagan volunteered to chair the Eastern Freestyle Competition Committee where he developed scoring and judging protocols, which became the foundation for the U.S. Ski Association taking over the sport. His input played a key role in freestyle developing into an Olympic sport.
Jack Lufkin was a standout cross country skier at Stephens High in Rumford from 1962 to 1965 on a team that was highly competitive and won state and New England titles in 1964. He continued racing at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, and in 1966 was named to the U.S. Team and the Olympic team in 1968.
In the 60s, skiers all over Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont watched “Ski Trails” on WMTW TV. The host of that show was George Oullette, who was among the founders of the Eastern Ski Writers Association, an organization that got its start at Olympic tryouts at Wildcat where he was one of a group of reporters on the scene. He served as president of that group from 1967-1969.
Peter Webber has been a part of Maine skiing for six plus decades. It was 53 years ago when he raced in the first Sugarloaf Schuss. Since then he has operated ski shops, managed sales for K2, operated the Sugarloaf Inn and played a key role at Sugarloaf as a board member and chairman of that board. He was also responsible for developing the Sugarloaf Golf Course, making the area a year-round resort.
The words here tell only a piece of the story of each of the 10 inductees who played varying roles in Maine skiing. More complete stories will be included in the program for the annual induction banquet at Lost Valley when we kick off the next ski season. For more details, check www.skimaine.com and click onto the Maine Ski Hall of Fame link. Shortly after the banquet, this column will resume. Enjoy the summer.
Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.