BETHEL – College basketball programs do it. Professional football franchises, too.

If you want rebuild a dormant system or start one from scratch, the preferred path is to hire an ambitious, proven coach with ties to the community.

When planning an extreme makeover of its ski program, Gould Academy and Sunday River liked that idea enough to try it twice.

Within the last six weeks, the college preparatory school and neighboring ski resort lured away Mark Godomsky from Colby College to become its program director and coaxed Kurt Simard from the University of New Hampshire as head alpine coach.

“I’m excited to try to build a program with better numbers and a higher caliber of competition,” said Godomsky, who spent 13 years at the alpine helm in Waterville.

Prior to that, the Farmington native was a multi-sport star at Mt. Blue High School, Carrabassett Valley Academy and Bates College.

Simard grew up in Auburn and was an assistant coach at Gould before a brilliant, eight-year run at UNH. He coached 19 All-Americans and led the Wildcats to the 2006 NCAA women’s giant slalom championship.

“I loved that time, but I kind of saw the opportunity for a new challenge,” Simard said. “I think this place has a tremendous amount of potential.”

Having mentored adult skiers at two of the top NCAA Division I programs, Godomsky and Simard will instruct a younger and more diverse crop of skiers in the Gould/Sunday River program.

In addition to Gould’s prep team, Sunday River will serve as a proving ground for everyone from 8-year-old newcomers to highly-ranked teenagers with Olympic and World Cup aspirations.

Godomsky will oversee the development of all four program disciplines: snowboarding, freestyle, Nordic and alpine. It won’t afford him many weekends off.

“It was a tough decision. Colby’s (season) had a nice, clear schedule with a definite start time and definite end time,” Godomsky said. “It didn’t have a summer component. You didn’t have to worry about what the kids were doing after hours.

“Both of us saw a great opportunity not only to work at Gould Academy but with the Sunday River mountain,” he added. “Sunday River is a very important piece. They’re fully committed here to being one of the best ski venues in the country.”

Having skied at CVA for three years and coached there three more seasons, Godomsky understands the perception that Gould is trying to mimic that success. CVA, which sits in the shadow of Sugarloaf/USA, hastened the development of Bode Miller, Kirsten Clark and Seth Wescott.

He sees Gould having an even brighter future, thanks to its decades-old academic tradition.

“Our strength is that we offer a full campus as well as a first-class facility,” Godomsky said. “Academics is going to be an important piece. That’s not to say the kids at CVA aren’t excellent students, also, but skiing is definitely a priority.”

When he cleans out his UNH office and begins work at Gould in July, Simard knows he’s walking into the paradox of a seasonal job that knows no off-season.

“It’s more dynamic than a college program,” Simard said. “It’s a program with a lot more young kids. You have the Gould Academy element of the program, but also a junior program. The school has made a true commitment to this.”

Simard said that both he and Godomsky hope to keep Maine on the map as a major player in the world of ski racing. Thanks to CVA and to a lesser degree Gould, the state has fared fabulously in this decade.

Even without the enhancements to its program, Gould could boast of Auburn’s Bump Heldman as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

Depending upon their skills and aspirations, future Gould students may compete with a prep squad in pursuit of the New England championship or take their shot at a travel team with a much broader scope.

“There is a competitive U.S. Ski Association element to it, where you go head-to-head with ski academies in New England and beyond,” Simard said. “That group will be racing everywhere from here to Europe. We want kids to reach their potential. If their goal is to make the Olympic team or the U.S. Ski Team, we want to be able to provide that opportunity.”


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