RUMFORD – For more than 30 years, Black Mountain of Maine has been recognized as one of North America’s finest Nordic skiing facilities for recreation and competition.

But after this past weekend, the Rumford ski area’s now being hailed as a promising new venue for Rock Maple Racing’s snowmobile snocross races.

“We’re very pleased with our visit to Black Mountain,” RMR spokesman Phil Whipple said Tuesday. “We found them to be extremely well prepared with the course and services and amenities. There are a lot of variables with this type of snocross racing, but they had all their ducks in a row.”

On Saturday and Sunday, Black Mountain hosted Round 2 of the 10-race 2007-2008 Rock Maple Racing Central series snocross tour.

An estimated 1,200 to 1,500 spectators watched a few hundred racers of all ages and skills zip, jump and bounce snowmobiles on Saturday in laps around the nearly half-mile track. Sunday’s crowd count was much lower due to the snowstorm. Still, organizers were happy.

“I think it really did something good for the region. I know they left a lot of money in the area,” Black Mountain spokesman Craig Zurhorst said Tuesday afternoon. “On Saturday evening, all the restaurants (in Mexico and Rumford) seemed like they were doing really well.”

“If the weather had cooperated, it would have been a monstrous weekend,” Black Mountain trustee Brad Adley said Tuesday.

After speaking with Rumford police, who helped with security, Adley said there were no incidents of misbehavior or crimes related to the event.

“These were some of the most respectful and self-policing people I’ve ever encountered in a long time. Both spectators and racers. They were very easy-going and very cooperative. It was a very family-oriented event. We couldn’t be happier with the people who came,” Zurhorst said.

Likewise, said Whipple, of Black Mountain volunteers and staff.

“These people went the extra mile for us, and it speaks to their adherence for excellence. The Chisholm Ski Club even fed our crew. They’re great peoplwe up there,” Whipple said.

A lack of lodging within a 20-mile radius of Rumford was about the only problem.

“We need to tweak lodging, but it was really out of our hands and they understand that,” Adley said.

“The lack of beds was a little bit of a hindrance, but a lot of people successfully found bed-and-breakfasts in the area. I know a lot of people stayed in their (recreational vehicles). The majority who came in as spectators were all day-trippers,” Zurhorst said.

Whipple also credited Nordic skiing legend and two-time Olympian Chummy Broomhall of Rumford for embracing the extreme snowmobile racing event.

“It’s a crazy sport, but it looks like fun if you’re young,” Broomhall said. “I think it’s a good boon to the area. We were going into this blind, but it worked out very well … Before the season began, I thought this was a long shot, but it brought revenue in and people to see the area. It was a win-win situation.”


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