2013 Maine Ski Hall of Fame class
This year’s class of pioneers, builders, coaches and instructors follows.
The Class of 2013 includes three US Ski Team members, one nordic, one alpine and one disabled, an outstanding high school ski coach, a freestyle pioneer, a leader in Maine’s ski patrol and MARA founder, a Sugarloaf founder, and an outstanding Nordic coach. Their stories give an important insight into Maine skiing and the skiers produced in this state.
Through the seventies, PleasantMountain (NowShawneePeak) was a hotbed of the new discipline (if the word can be applied to freestyle) of freestyle skiing. It started with final forms and progressed into ballet, moguls and aerials. That program that produced Greg Stump and five other national champions was coached by Bruce Cole, a skilled freestyler in his own right, who competed on the early professional circuit when not coaching his charges at PleasantMountain.
The World Cup came to Sugarloaf in 1971, and Gail Blackburn, a hot junior racer out of Brunswick was scheduled to forerun the women’s downhill. When the coaches realized that as host team they had extra slots, Gail was moved from forerunner to full competitor. At the age of 16 she skied into a 22nd place finish against the finest female downhillers in the world. That performance earned her an invitation to train with the US team and a year later Gail Blackburn became the first female alpine skier from Maine named to the Us Ski Team.
Greg Poirier carried on the tradition of his home town of Rumford by competing in all four events and eventually settling into the nordic side. His competitive career included the Junior Nationals, high finishes in collegiate events, and the Olympic trials in 1980. Shortly after he became jumping and cross country coach at Winter Park and went on coach the US ski jumping team and the nordic combined team in World Championships and Olympics.
In the early years at Sugarloaf Rand Stowell was a constant presence, helping to lay out trails, furnishing equipment and crews to cut trails and lift lines, and working side by side with King Cummings to negotiate the purchase of the mountain from Scott Paper. Sugarloaf regulars remember him as always being a supporter of racing on the mountain and he could be counted on to always be at the finish line at big races. This part of his legacy is recognized each year with the running of the Rand Stowell Downhill.
Disabled skiers often fly under the radar. The Paralympics may take place over the same venues as the regular Olympics, but they don’t get the same coverage. That’s why many Maine skiers have never heard of Craig Gray. His paralyzing accident in 1979 didn’t stop him from pursuing athletics and he represented his country in the Paralympics in Nagano, Japan in 1998 as a cross country sit skier. Along with his competition Craig has volunteered with Maine Handicapped skiing to train other disabled athletes.
Howard Paradis started skiing on wood skis made by his uncle and in high school competed in cross country and jumping, excelling in cross country. In the sixties he began coaching at MadawaskaHigh School and his girl’s ski teams captured a long list of titles through the seventies and beyond. To offer a better experience Howard developed a cross country center close to school by convincing land owners that he would keep cutting to a minimum if he could use their land. It is now known as Four Season Trail in Madawaska and at age 80 Howard Paradis is still skiing 60 days a year.
Randy Kerr was a top cross country skier for Edward Little and went on to race at New EnglandCollege establishing himself as one of the country’s top cross country racers. He continued in competition and earned a spot on the US Cross Country Team in 1973, moved to the A team in 1975, but missed out on an Olympic spot with a case of the flu during the Olympic trials. He remained on the team and in 1978 while a member of the B team, he was the op American finisher in the American Birkebeiner, coming in eighth behind seven Scandanavian, Swiss and Finish skiers all consistent winners in world XC competition.
Will Farnham is one of those avid skiers who gives back by using his organizational skills to benefit Maine skiers. As a ski patrolman he served as patrol director at Titcomb and HermonMountains and organized patrols at Squaw, Lee and Eaton. He served as section chief for the Ski Patrol and for eight years served as regional Director for the Maine Region overseeing all of Maine’s ski patrols. Along with Larry Mahaney and Peter Spaulding Will organized the Maine Alpine Racing Association which remains the governing body of alpine ski racing in the state.
These eight skiers have all contributed significantly to skiing in Maine so mark your calendar for Oct. 25. See you on the slopes.