Did you know that Maine has had a skier in every Olympics since 1948? It’s true, and that streak would go back farther had the 1940 and 1944 winter games not been canceled by World War II.

Rumford’s Chummy Broomhall qualified for both of those Olympics, but instead fought with the 10th Mountain Division and competed in 1948 and 1952. In 1952, he was joined by a fellow Rumford skier, Bob Pidacks. That started a string tat has gone unbroken for 70 years.

I’m sure only a handful of Maine skiers are aware of this outstanding record of Maine skiers.

It was only my curiosity that led me to this discovery.

Back when the U.S. Ski Team produced a printed hard copy of their annual media guide, I would dig through it looking for Maine skiers among the current crop. That information was always passed along in this column.

Eventually, I got to scouring the alumni list in the back of the book, and with the aid of a highlighter picked out the Maine skiers listed. It wasn’t easy as the lists contained only the names, years on the team and Olympics. No hometowns were included. It would have been easy to miss a name or two if I didn’t have knowledge of most top Maine skiers.

The only year we didn’t have a skier in the Olympics was 1956, when Andover native Al Merrill was there as a coach keeping Maine’s representation in every winter games intact.

The list is impressive. After Broomhall, Pidacks and Merrill, came Charlie Akers and Jack Lufkin in 1960. Four years later it was John Bower, who was joined in 1968 by Jim Miller and Tom Upham.

Auburn’s Robert Kendall and Jim Miller were there in 1972. Karl Anderson became our first alpine competitor in 1976, and at Lake Placid in 1980 he was joined by Dan Simoneau and Leslie Bancroft. Simoneau was alone in 1984, but in 1988 was joined by Nancy Fiddler and Bancroft.

The 1992 Olympics saw our first Paralympic skier — who became our most successful Olympian — Sarah Billmeier, who won eight gold medals in three Paralympics. Fiddler was back and joined by Julie and Rob Parisien, as Julie became our first female alpine skier.

The 1994 Lillehammer games happened only two years later due to the change that offset the summer and winter games, rather than having both in the same year. There, Billmeier and Julie Parisien were joined by Marcus Nash and Anna Parisien.

Kirsten Clark was at the 1998 games along with Paralympian Craig Gray. Kirsten returned in 2002 along with Paralympian Carl Burnett. Four years later Seth Wescott joined Clark and Burnett.

In 2010 Wescott and Burnett were joined by Paralympian Luba Lowery. Russell Currier made his first appearance in 2014, and David Chamberlain was there as a guide for a blind skier. Last February, Currier returned and Troy Murphy and Claire Egan represented Maine and their country as well.

That’s an impressive list, and it doesn’t include all the coaches, along with Al Merrill, Bob Harkins, Greg Poirier, Peter Davis and Forest Carey. There may be coaches I don’t know about, and there is also a list of Maine skiers who have officiated at the Winter Olympics.

Once this list was laid out before the Ski Museum of Maine Board of Directors, it was only a matter of minutes before the decision was made to devote a special exhibit to Maine’s Olympic skiers.

Over the past few months, the board has been contacting our Olympians and, in some cases, relatives to gather items for this special exhibit. On display will be bibs, Olympic uniforms, sweaters, boots, skis and other items used by these very special Maine skiers.

The most extensive display from a single Olympian comes from the family of Chummy Broomhall. This is fitting as Chummy was not only a competitor in 1948 and 1952, but he also served as chief of course for cross country at Squaw Valley in 1960 and at Lake Placid in 1980. He was involved in national and international competitions at the highest levels, called on by the leaders of the various competition organizations for his skills in organizing and running nordic events. His mementos, many of which were on display at the service for him at Black Mountain last winter, include everything from uniforms and sweaters to pins, photos and posters.

The ski museum has a number of displays focused on the history of skiing in Maine, the building and growth of the various ski areas, a look at some of the ski areas that disappeared but were still important to the growth of the sport. For many of us the first lifts we rode were rope tows at areas no longer in operation. Those of us who grew up in the Norway-Paris area got our skis from Paris Manufacturing before the advent of metal and fiberglass. A number of models of Paris Skis are on display along with some from Tubbs, which made skis and snowshoes in Norway.

Bass made the boots of choice for us in our early years, leather and barely above the ankle. The 10 Mountain Division was outfitted with Bass Boots and Paris Skis, and the military models are on display. We don’t have space enough here to go into detail about all the items in the museum, but it’s worth the trip to Kingfield to immerse yourself in the history of Maine skiing.

And now, with the addition of the exhibit telling the story of Maine’s Olympic skiers, another important part of Maine’s skiing history is told.

Also in the museum is a plaque listing the names of members of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Most of the Olympians are on the plaque except for a few from the most recent games who will soon be added. The date planned for the opening of the Olympic skier exhibit is Friday, Dec. 28. See you there.


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