With the Sochi Olympics now in high gear, it’s welcome news to Mainers that our little state is well-represented. More than a dozen athletes and coaches at the Sochi games have some connection to Maine – they’re either from here, train here or went to school in Maine. Most of them are skiers (Alpine and cross-country), and snowboarders.

This Olympic involvement isn’t a happy accident. Maine has a long history of Olympians, stretching back to the start of the modern winter games. From the early groundbreakers to the modern athletes coming out of Carrabassett Valley Academy and the Maine Winter Sports Center, the road to the Olympics seems to run through Maine.

The Maine Ski Hall of Fame, established in 2003 to honor Maine folks who have contributed to the sport of skiing, backs up our Olympic credentials. In just a decade of inducting skiers and snowboarders, more than a dozen Olympians have made the honor roll.

Auburn, Lost Valley and Edward Little High have particular prominence in this history. John Litchfield was a member of the Edward Little ski team that won the state championship in 1934 and went on to be named to the U.S. ski team for the 1940 Winter Olympics (canceled due to World War II). Bob Kendall, another Edward Little skier, was a member of the U.S. Nordic combined team at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan – where, by coincidence, those 1940 games would have been held.

Dick and Mary Kendall, Bob’s parents, coached countless racers at Lost Valley, and officiated Nordic events in the 1980 and 2002 Olympics.

Karl Anderson, another alumni of the Edward Little race team, was the first Mainer to represent the U.S. in an Alpine event, during the 1976 games in Innsbruck, Austria. He also skied in the 1980 Olympics and served on the executive board of the U.S. Olympic Committee throughout the ’80s. Julie Parisien, another skier who grew up skiing at Lost Valley, represented the U.S. at the 1992 games as a downhiller.

Black Mountain in Rumford was another cradle for future Olympians, specifically Nordic skiers. Much of the credit for this goes to Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall, a 10th Mountain Division skier who helped to develop Black Mountain. Broomhall skied in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, and aided in developing the Nordic courses at both the 1960 and 1980 games. Robert Pidacks of Rumford was right on Broomhall’s heels as an Olympian, skiing in the 1952 games alongside Broomhall. Jim Miller of neighboring Mexico competed in the 1968 and 1972 games, joined by fellow locals Jack Lufkin (in 1968) and Frank Lutick Jr. (1972).

Though they boast fewer native sons and daughters, the Maine Winter Sports Center’s facilities have an Olympic pedigree. Sochi competitors Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Lanny Barnes, Annelies Cook, Russell Currier and Kris Freeman all train at the MWSC. Of the six, two have deeper Maine connections: Currier graduated from Caribou High and Bailey’s mom lives in Brunswick.

Carrabassett Valley Academy has produced 11 Olympians, who have brought home seven medals – three golds, three silvers and a bronze. Among them is Maine’s most decorated native winter Olympian, Seth Wescott, who took the gold twice in men’s snowboardcross. Other alums, like Bode Miller, Annalisa Drew, Jeff Greenwood, Kirsten Clark and Emily Cook, aren’t from Maine but put in lots of time on the slopes of Sugarloaf while at CVA.

Beyond the on-hill competitors, U.S. ski team coach Forest Carey used to coach at CVA, and Canadian snowboard team coach Mark Fawcett is a Carrabassett Valley graduate.

Other Olympic stories dot the state. C. Allison Merrill and Charlie Akers, both of Andover, competed in Nordic events – Merrill in 1956, and Akers in 1960 and 1964. Farmington native Dan Simoneau competed in the 4×10-kilometer relay and the 15K in the 1984 games. Leslie Bancroft, who raced cross country for Oxford Hills in high school, retired from the sport in 1983 before staging a comeback and making the 1988 Olympic team.

Marcus Nash of Fryeburg was a member of the 1994 and 1998 U.S. Olympic cross-country teams. Emily Bamford, who is skiing for Australia at the Sochi games, is a Bates College student.

So join me in toasting Maine’s Olympic history while rooting for those now in Sochi.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be contacted at: j[email protected]