Sk­i­trax Roundtable

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Sadie Bjornsen, Alex Har­vey, Devon Ker­shaw, Andy Newell and Kikkan Ran­dall

There were four days of rac­ing with nine na­tions at­tend­ing and an es­ti­mated crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 each day. As a small to­ken of their ap­pre­ci­a­tion, the Swedish team do­nated 50 pairs of rac­ing skis to Rum­ford’s famed Chisholm Ski Club (one of the na­tion’s old­est ski clubs), which helped to en­er­gize its al­ready grow­ing youth pro­gram.

In the spring of 1959, the head of the 1960 Squaw Val­ley Olympic Win­ter Games, Alex Cush­ing, hired Chummy to serve as Chief of Events for cross-coun­try and for the first-time Olympic ap­pear­ance of biathlon. It was to be a two-year Cal­i­for­nian gig. He gave up a good job at Hood Di­ary, as, once again, the Olympics served as a siren song en­tic­ing him west­ward.

There, he teamed up with a dear friend, Al Mer­rill, who was Dart­mouth Col­lege’s ski coach. The two Maine na­tives proved in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing new trail-groom­ing tech­nolo­gies, used for the first time in cross-coun­try ski­ing at the Olympic Games.

The cour­ses were rolled with farm equip­ment, which proved a mas­sive time­saver, en­chant­ing the gath­ered Euro­pean throng. By ev­ery mea­sure, the Games were a huge suc­cess and put Squaw Val­ley on the map. Walt Dis­ney’s cre­ative ex­per­tise was re­flected in his chore­ograph­ing the open­ing cer­e­monies and IBM un­der­took the data-pro­cess­ing, all cul­mi­nat­ing in vast dis­play of Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity.

At Squaw Val­ley, famed Swedish cham­pion Six­ten Jern­berg gave Chummy a pair of his skis, a deeply per­sonal gift and a to­ken of his friend­ship. Chummy was thrilled, but, sadly, the skis were later stolen. He still re­called these events many years on.

Mer­rill and Chummy’s col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion and Yankee prac­ti­cal­ity spurred some mag­i­cal, in­no­va­tive think­ing that went on to change Nordic ski­ing. Chummy changed it by not only be­ing an im­pact­ful or­ga­nizer and ath­lete, but also by be­ing a coach and men­tor.

A grad­u­ate of Fort Lewis Col­lege in Du­rango, Colo. and a for­mer All-amer­i­can and Olympian in Nordic-com­bined, Jimmy Miller, also a na­tive of Mex­ico, Maine, re­called that Chummy could com­mu­ni­cate without say­ing much, and was, most of all, a nur­tur­ing coach. “Chummy al­ways made you feel spe­cial. It didn’t mat­ter how much tal­ent you had. He taught us you never give up, no mat­ter what hap­pens in a race. I loved it when he said that it’s not your equip­ment that makes you fast, but your heart. He was al­ways present in our lives, whether it was when mak­ing tracks and trails or through his ex­cel­lent coach­ing.”

Miller was just one of le­gions of Chummy fans around the coun­try. He noted that Chummy had unique qual­i­ties that are in short sup­ply these days: “First, he mined the good­ness and tal­ent of peo­ple, and loved them like his own. He has the mag­i­cal power to make you feel spe­cial. He had re­spect for the sport, and peo­ple had a re­spect for him that was leg­endary and uni­ver­sal. Ath­letes and peo­ple were just at­tracted to him. He also en­cour­aged us to set lofty goals and go af­ter them.”

In 1980, the Olympic Win­ter Games again came call­ing for Chummy’s vast ex­per­tise. Work­ing along­side his friend Mer­rill, both pre­vi­ously bat­tle-tested by the 1960 Olympic Win­ter Games, he was ready to do it all again. This time, Mer­rill was Chief of Race and Chummy served as Chief of Course, a swap of roles of their Squaw Val­ley days. Once again, the pair in­spired hun­dreds of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers. They also re­lied on in­no­va­tion and snow-farm­ing tech­niques, show­ing their in­ge­nu­ity by hav­ing snow hauled from a huge pile at the biathlon cen­tre to the cross-coun­try-ski trails across the street and us­ing ma­nure spread­ers to dis­trib­ute it. The small vil­lage of Lake Placid again hosted the Win­ter Games, and the course crew did the near-im­pos­si­ble, mak­ing a world-class im­pres­sion along the way.

In 1981, Chummy was in­ducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in recog­ni­tion of his life­long achieve­ments in ski sport.

Chummy had an Old-world love of sport about him. He had the ‘it’ fac­tor. He taught us all by ex­am­ple how you take care of, with love and at­ten­tion, your fam­ily, your ski club and your friends.

Chummy in­spired gen­er­a­tions to serve the sport he loved. He was gen­er­ous too, over the years do­nat­ing ap­prox­i­mately 300 acres of land for the trail net­work at Maine’s Black Moun­tain. He loved his vol­un­teers and treated each one like gold, and they would go to the ends of the earth and back for Chummy to make a race hap­pen.

An­other who knew Chummy well was Dan Warner, a long­time of­fi­cial and vol­un­teer at Chummy’s famed Chisholm Ski Club. “Chummy was many things, but, above all, he was a men­tor, and I was lucky enough to have him play a huge role in my younger years of be­com­ing a race of­fi­cial. He did that for ev­ery­one,” Warner, a for­mer In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion tech­ni­cal del­e­gate and Olympic of­fi­cial, re­called. “He al­ways told me to sur­round my­self with great, tal­ented peo­ple, and now, when folks ask why I of­fi­ci­ate races, I say that Chummy did it for me, so I’m happy to do it for the skiers of to­day. Chummy mo­ti­vated me to do my best.”

Even as re­cently as 2002, he was at it again, this time serv­ing as an hon­orary vol­un­teer at the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2003, Chummy was in­ducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Again, the words of Miller, whose late brother Pat Miller, a for­mer Uni­ver­sity of Utah head coach, also grew up along­side Chummy and shared a deep af­fec­tion for him: “You know, Chummy had an OldWorld love of sport about him. He had the ‘it’ fac­tor. He taught us all by ex­am­ple how you take care of, with love and at­ten­tion, your fam­ily, your ski club and your friends. Chummy taught the world of ski­ing that, with love of the sport and care of mankind, any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

No greater words are needed, no trib­ute more sin­cere, all for a man who played a ma­jor role in help­ing Nordic ski­ing grow and flour­ish. A true lion of win­ter sport has passed, and those who were touched by Chummy are among his great­est lega­cies. Those of us in­spired by him will have that bless­ing forever­more.

Fol­low­ing the war, Broomhall be­came a mem­ber of the US Ski Team from 1947-1954 and raced at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games.

Broomhall's im­mense con­tri­bu­tions in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of the Black Moun­tain Ski Area in Rum­ford, Maine.

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