Ski-racing traditions run deep on NH mountains
KATHLEEN BAGLIO HUMPHREYS | April 03. 2014 10:33PM
During the 1920s and 1930s, ski races were held on trails cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The first trail in New Hampshire was cut on Cannon Mountain in 1933 and named the Richard Taft Trail. Franconia Ski Club was founded by Roland Peabody to provide ski recreation and training for local schoolchildren. Neighboring Peckett's Hill is known for its early ski training.
Most of New Hampshire's ski clubs are weekend programs, with the exception of Waterville Valley, which is the only ski academy in the state. Cannon and Gunstock just introduced winter term programs.
"We have prep schools which now have extremely strong ski teams, but it was not always that way. Holderness has a strong program and Proctor is now strong," Marshall said. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, coaches were building high school programs at Kimball Union Academy, which trains at Whaleback, and Ford Sayer Academy, which trains at Dartmouth Skiway. The Cardigan Mountain School goes up to 9th grade.
"Dartmouth, UNH, Colby-Sawyer and Plymouth all play into the history of skiing in New Hampshire," Marshall said.
NHARA has 725 registered ski racers. They host an average of 125-150 racers per season, from non-scored races for the younger athletes to scored events for the older athletes.
"Cannon is a great hill and has so much to offer in terms of terrain, trails, the woods and glades, plus Mittersill, which is fantastic for the kids," he said. "I watch the U8s (Under 8 skiers) whipping down Avalanche and I think, 'What are they going to be doing in 10 to 12 years?' What a place to grow up."
"I like ski racing because I love the feeling of going fast," he said. "I also love being outside all weekend practicing and racing with my coaches and friends. The best part of ski racing is race day. When I get in the gate, I feel I need to crush that run."