Nordic ski enthusiasts from around New England and beyond converged in Woodford, VT on February 6th for the 2010 Prospect Mountain Olympics. Clear blue skies, comfortable weather, and a deep snow base with beautifully groomed, packed powder on top made for a super day of skiing. More than 180 skiers participated in a variety of events for all ages.
The opening ceremonies began with Prospect Mountain Bill Koch League coach Bob Fisher skiing down from the top of the bunny slope with a flaming Olympic torch. Halfway down he passed the torch to Prospect BKL parent Brenda Smith. Brenda, who skied the classic 15K and skate 30K in the 1992 Olympics, took the torch from there to the bottom where she and Bob lit the flaming Olympic cauldron to cheers all around.
Hallie Anderson, 9, of Williamstown, MA enjoyed the spectacle and commented, “It was really cool to watch them ski down the hill with that burning torch.”
Dave Newell, father of current USA Olympic Nordic team member Andy Newell, served as master of ceremonies. Following the playing of the Olympic theme song, he introduced a special guest speaker, known to us all as the namesake of our youth ski clubs – Bill Koch.
Bill won the silver medal for the 30K classic race in the 1976 Olympics. He is also well known as one of the early innovators of the skate style of Nordic skiing. He spoke of the true meaning of the Olympics. “All the talk about which country won the most medals – that’s all hooey. That’s not what’s important. The Olympics are about friendship and camaraderie.”
Reflecting on the day he won his silver medal, he noted that the congratulations he received from Russians and Norwegians and other competitors were just as hearty as those he received from fellow USA teammates. We may compete on different club teams, he observed, and perhaps move on to regional teams or even national teams, but in the end we’re all from the same planet. The Olympic games are meant to bring us together.
And on that note, he declared the Prospect Olympics open.
The Lollipoppers took the spotlight for the first race of the day. Four year-old Willem Thurber of Brattleboro, VT was pleased with the results of his effort: “I got a red lollipop!” Next came classic sprints for the J3s, J4s, J5s, and J6s, with separate races for girls and boys of each age group. Ribbons went to all participants for doing their best and completing the course with enthusiasm.
Following the races came several non-competitive family events. There was an Olympic Ring Challenge mini-marathon, which involved skiing either a 4K course or a long and hilly 7.5K course in search of five colored Olympic rings. At each station, skiers collected a pipe cleaner in the color of that ring. Food stations along the way added to the fun. Back at the lodge the pipe cleaners were assembled into the Olympic logo and turned in for a prize. Kyle Alvarez, 10, of Williamstown, MA said, “The ring challenge was hard work, but really fun.”
Skiers could also try their hands – or rather, brains – at a memory course along the trails leading to the first food station. Olympic-themed items, such as skis with boots attached and a doll in figure skates, were placed along the trail. Those who could recite the items they had seen received an edible Olympic ring (a donut or bagel) of their choice. Clare Kelly, 11, who came all the way from New Jersey, thought that “the teddy bear on the luge was really cute.”
An obstacle course for Lollipoppers and J6ers, and a cross-country giant slalom for all ages rounded out the day’s activities. Parent Jeannie Cody of Bennington, VT shared her assessment of the event. “It was fabulous. Well-organized and a lot of fun. A great family day!”
Special thanks go to Dave Newell and Bill Koch for participating in the opening ceremonies, to the indefatigable Barbara Kourajian – Prospect BKL coordinator and coach and master organizer of the day, to all of the Prospect BKL coaches for their efforts in preparing and running the activities, and to the many Prospect BKL parents and friends who pitched in to make this event a great success!
Submitted by Mary Kirby, BKL parent