With Thanksgiving weekend running into December the ski season is off and running with more than the usual offerings this soon after the holiday. And there is a lot to catch up on.

Last week I mentioned the Hall of Fame Banquet, which is a celebration of the accomplishments of those being inducted each year. It also is a recording of the history of our sport, and so it is inevitable that each year we lose some of the members.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

The first year, only three of that class of 10 were alive to accept in person. All are now gone, with Chummy Broomhall, who lived to attend a dozen or more banquets, the last to go at age 98.

This fall we lost two more, one a key part of the Lewiston-Auburn ski community and the other at Sugarloaf.

Tom Kendall was a member of this area’s first family of skiing. Dick and Mary Kendall skied and taught skiing, supporting every aspect of the sport, especially in the early days of Lost Valley. All the children were outstanding skiers at Edward Little High School and in college.

Tom followed the family traditions on and off the hill. He took his leadership role with the Edward Little ski team to college and excelled for Dartmouth. But his most important contributions came after college when he applied his professional computer skills to fill a vital need for ski racing.

As any veteran ski official or coach will verify, timing was always one of the most challenging aspects of competitive ski racing, Alpine or cross country. Those of us who have covered this sport over the years know full well what is was like to wait for official results so we could file our stories. In the days before computers those waits often went past deadlines.

Tom Kendall developed a computer program to handle ski race timing and used it to provide timing for as many as 40 events a year, giving results almost immediately after each race. His expertise led to him being invited to major events across the country, including as Chief of Timing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Tom Kendall will be sorely missed, not only in this local ski community but across the nation.

Robert “Stub” Taylor was Sugarloaf’s first ski patrolman and led that patrol from the day the area opened, when he operated the rope tow, until his retirement more than four decades later.

It was no surprise that 300 turned out for his funeral this fall. For me, Stub was a special friend. When I became patrol director at Sunday River he had already held that position at the ’Loaf for a couple of decades.

Later, when we were both examiners for both the National Ski Patrol and the Professional Ski Patrol, I always looked forward to seeing him at exams and other events. Whenever I skied at Sugarloaf, my first stop on the mountain was a patrol shack to see where Stub was on duty. The next stop would be wherever he was so we could spend a bit of time and maybe take a run or two together. After he retired from on mountain patrolling I would visit him in the clinic where he worked for a few days a week. This was after he had developed Parkinson’s disease, but we still shared great memories.

I still have the T-shirt his fellow patrollers sold as part of their fundraising for Stub’s retirement. The front shows Sugarloaf with a single trail (Winter’s Way) stating, “Stub cut the first.” On the back it shows all the trails stating, “Stub cut them all.” I believe Stub was the first full-time employee. When his ski patrol season ended, he went to work cutting trails and building lifts. With those T-shirts and other fundraisers, those fellow patrollers bought Stub a brand new pickup truck as a retirement gift.

Every Sugarloaf skier lost a friend when Robert “Stub” Taylor left us.

Both Tom and Stub would have enjoyed the abundant early skiing we have this season. We have not only had great snowmaking temperatures, but enough natural snow has fallen to groom into the man-made base that surface conditions are about as good as they can be.

All of the ski areas have been making snow and are either open or getting ready. By next weekend, in addition to already-open Sunday River and Sugarloaf, look for Lost Valley, Mt. Abram and Shawnee Peak to all be in regular season operation. Black Mountain in Rumford is planning on opening Dec. 21.

Celebrating this great start to the season, ski areas have a plenty of special events between now and the Christmas vacation, with visits from Santa and tree lightings.

Lost Valley will have a season launch party Thursday at 4:30 p.m. to celebrate their opening the next day. You might find me at this one. I also plan on being at Sunday River’s 60th birthday party, as I was also there opening day in 1959 to ride the area’s first T-bar.

I grabbed another ski day this past week by heading over to Bretton Woods. I got to ride the new Gondola, a top to bottom lift that will be popular year-round. It is a quick, warm ride to the summit, where a huge new lodge is under construction.

On the way home I visited a new ski shop: Ski Hot Ski Shop is right on the corner of Mountain Road at Shawnee Peak. Regular skiers there will be happy to see owners Scott Hendricks and his wife Becca Jewett, both veterans at serving skiers, and familiar faces at Shawnee Peak. Their website is www.skihot.com

Finally, a reminder: There are only 16 shopping days left before Christmas, and I recommend doing that shopping at ski areas shops or those nearby so you can take advantage of all this early season skiing.

See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a longtime ski columnist for the Sun Journal.


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