I have to do a bit of checking, but I believe Maine’s streak of having a skier in every Winter Olympics since 1948 was extended with the naming of Sophia Laukli of Yarmouth to the Nordic team for Beijing and Claire Egan to the biathlon team.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

A lot of Maine skiers are unaware that Maine has had a skier in every winter Olympics since 1948. This was highlighted a few years ago when the Ski Museum of Maine had a display featuring items from many of the various athletes from Maine who have competed on this great world stage.

The first was Chummy Broomhall in 1948. He was named in 1944 but those games were cancelled due to World War II and Chummy wound up in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. A few years later, another Rumford-Mexico skier, Bob Pidacks, won the Olympic trials to join Broomhall on the 1952 Olympic cross country squad. Those trials were held on Pidack’s home track at Black Mountain — another indication of the significant role Maine has played for many decades in national and international skiing.

Chummy Broomhall was a lot more than a competitor. After his Olympic appearances, he was called on repeatedly by organizers of the games. He was at Squaw Valley to lay out the course for cross country at those games and again at Lake Placid in 1980.

In 1956, we didn’t have a skier, but Andover’s Al Merrill was there as a coach, and in 1960 another Andover skier, Charlie Akers, was on the Cross country team. John Bower competed in 1964 and Tom Upham and Jack Lufkin joined him in 1968. Auburn’s Robert Kendall was on the 1972 team.

In the years that followed, Karl Anderson, Leslie Bancroft, Nancy Fiddler and Dan Simoneau joined the Olympic roster and there has been a Maine skier or coach at every Winter Olympics since. Of course, one of the most acclaimed is Seth Wescott, with his back-to-back gold medals in Snowboard Cross.

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Each year, immediately following the regular games, is the Paralympics, and it is here that our winningest Olympic athlete has performed. Yarmouth’s Sarah Billmeier lost a leg to cancer at the age of five, started skiing three years later, joined the U.S. Ski Team in 1992 and quickly moved to the top of three tracker class in her sport. In her eight years on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, Sarah piled up eight Olympic gold medals, the most of any Maine skier.

As the 2022 winter games get underway in China, Maine will once again be represented, as it has been in every winter Olympics since 1948.

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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