Since my column on high school ski racing, I have learned a lot and picked up sources for a lot more.

I mentioned the website and since have talked with Dustin Williamson, who operates the site. It’s strictly a labor of love as his is a completely volunteer endeavor. He credits coaches and race organizers with getting him results and schedules.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

To learn more, I checked with a ski area that grew out of school and amateur competition. Black Mountain in Rumford has hosted every level of cross country competition — international as well as local school and NCAA — and Deana Kersey told me that high school racing will take place under the lights Friday evenings at 4 p.m., right after the area closes for the day.

The Chisholm Ski Club, based out of Black Mountain, is one of the state’s oldest clubs, having celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago. On the occasion of that party, the book by Scott Andrews was being sold and, against his doctor’s advice, Chummy Broomhall had left the Veteran’s home in South Paris and had his son Scotty drive him to the event. The author wasn’t on hand to sign copies of the book, but members of the club and passholders were just as happy to have Chummy sign their book. He was kept busy for every minute he was there and dozens left happy with their signed copies of the 100 year history of the Chisholm Ski Club.

A quote from the late Chummy Broomhall is appropriate. “It’s only a little club, but we do big things.” An example would be the 1950 World Cross Country Championships. Check the Chisholm Ski Club website for an extensive list of major events, even including jumping before the NCAA dropped that event.

While Black Mountain is well-known for its cross country competitions, there is now a Chisholm Alpine Ski Team, part of a learn-to-race program.

The program has participants from Cumberland, Livermore, Freeport, Turner and Milton Township, along with the River Valley area. The program is directed by head coach Jeff Farnum, a Rumford native, and his assistant Trace Leavitt. The first big event will be the Black Mountain Opener, next Saturday, Jan. 9. There will be competition in all junior divisions, U8 through U14. And most of the racing will be visible from the base area.

Wednesday, I checked out another Maine ski area with a whole lot of racing going on, and I found a high school coach involved in another way. Scott Berube is the head ski coach at Edward Little. This was the third day of an annual race camp that draws junior racers from all over. After two days of training, day three was for real racing and Scott was busy in the timing shack at the bottom of the course on Big Buck. The shack has a digital display so parents and other spectators can see the racer’s time immediately after he or she finishes. The camp is operated by the Lost Valley Racing Club and drew 46 kids.

In the column on high school racing, I tried to make the point that parents of ski racers sacrifice greatly for their offspring to pursue ski racing and I met one who personifies that sacrifice. John Hall travelled from Houlton so his son Iver could attend this camp. How would you like a four-hour drive to such an event? Add in lodging and it’s an expensive event.

John is the athletic director at the Greater Houlton Christian Academy. He described Lost Valley as the “most happening place” they visit. They travel every weekend to race somewhere. It could be Camden, Hermon Mountain, Lonesome Pine in Fort Kent or just over the border in New Brunswick. John and Iver Hall will be back at Lost Valley in February, probably for the J.P. Parisien Memorial Race. The only short trips are to Big Rock in Mars Hill.

The visit to Lost Valley told me something else. The changes owner Scott Shanaman has made are certainly working. Since buying the area, he has adjusted the hours to make sure they are open when the demand is there. The Lost Valley Brewery and rearranged bar area have been popular, starting well before the ski season. Obviously, I don’t have any numbers but in all the years I have been skiing there I have never seen a crowd the size I saw Wednesday. All the parking lots were full and cars were parked almost the entire length of the access road.

The biggest lesson from all this inquiry is how everyone involved in school and amateur ski competition seems to be totally involved. Like Scott Berube, they might be coaching one day and not long after, they are timing another race. Skiing is like that in ways that no other sport is.

See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist who hails from Westbrook. He has been contributing to the Sun Journal for many years and is among the most respected ski writers in the Northeast. He also is a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Write to him at [email protected]   

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