Restoring the 1960 Olympic Nordic Ski Trails
Project honors Chummy Broomhall, two-time Maine Olympian, who designed the Nordic trails for the 1960 Winter Games
By Scott Andrews, research director, Ski Museum of Maine
When Squaw Valley, California, won its bid to host the 1960 Olympics, the organizing committee turned to a Maine Nordic enthusiast and two-time Olympian to design the cross-country and biathlon trails. Wendall "Chummy" Broomhall spent the better part of two years working on the design and supervising the construction. He also served as Chief of Race during the competition.
When the cheering was over and the Winter Games became history, the trails reverted to forest (as intended by the Olympic organizers) and became totally overgrown during the following decades.
That might have ended the story, but a few years ago Nordic enthusiast and local history buff David Antonucci discovered the remains of the trails during one of his rambles through the forest, which is today a state park.
Intrigued, Antonucci formed a committee to restore some of the trails, arranged to have them groomed during the snow season, and erected a number of interpretive signs for visitors. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm, backed by the California parks department, miles of those trails provide excellent skiing in the Lake Tahoe region.
When I visited the Lake Tahoe region in February, 2010, I met Antonucci and skied some of those historic trails with him.
David Antonucci led the movement to restore several miles of the 1960 Olympic cross-country and biathlon trails for public skiing. (Scott Andrews photo)
Back in 1960, Broomhall's original trail layout was entirely on private land. Subsequently some of that property was donated to the state of California and is now the Ed Z'berg State Park in Tahoma, about 15 miles from Squaw Valley. Most of the trail mileage that lies within the park boundaries has now been restored and is quite skiable.
David Antonucci poses by the informational sign that describes the Nordic competition at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. He also wrote a fine book about the Games, A Snowball's Chance. (Scott Andrews photo)
Tahoma, about 15 miles from Squaw Valley, was the venue for the cross-country and biathlon competition at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Chummy Broomhall, a two-time Olympic skier from Rumford, served as Chief of Race and laid out the trails in the two years preceding the Winter Games. (Scott Andrews photo)
As skiers glide through the woods and trails at Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park in Tahoma, California, they encounter a number of informative signs that recall the cross-country and biathlon competition at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. (Scott Andrews photo)
The story of the 1960 Olympic Games has been recounted in Antonucci's book, A Snowball's Chance: The Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, which was published late in 2009 as part of the 50th anniversary observations. Broomhall made the trip to California to take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations and became good friends with Antonucci. Broomhall celebrated his 91st birthday last December. He was one of the original members of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.
David Antonucci's fine history of the 1960 Olympic Games (cover reproduced above) recounts the story of Chummy Broomhall's work in designing the Nordic ski trails.