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.