February 6, 2012

Mainers at the game: Cherished call for gold medalist

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS - Sometimes being famous is nice.

Just ask Seth Wescott.

There he was, sitting back home in Maine on Thursday when a Visa representative called:

"Seth, want to go to the Super Bowl?"

Did he?

"Hey," Wescott, the two-time Olympic snowboardcross gold medal winner from Carrabassett Valley, said Sunday morning. "I had the opportunity to come. I decided I had to come."

Amazingly, not only is the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants Wescott's first Super Bowl but, he said, "It's my first NFL game. Ever. Sweet that I get to see my team play in the Super Bowl."

Wescott, who appears in several ads for Visa, arrived Saturday, accompanied by Eric McClure of Sugarloaf. Once here, they joined up with super fans Mike Runser and John Beaupre -- two 50-year-olds who should be the envy of any serious sports fan in Maine.

Runser, from Sydney, and Beaupre, from Carrabassett Valley, travel the nation attending sports events. Last September they celebrated Beaupre's 50th birthday at Lambeau Field in the NFL season opener between Green Bay and New Orleans. During that trip they also played two rounds at Whistling Straits golf course, which was the site of the 2010 PGA championship, went to a baseball game in Milwaukee, a Chicago Bears football game and a Chicago White Sox baseball game.

"That was a good trip," Runser said.

The two childhood friends have been doing this sort of thing for years. They've attended the Kentucky Derby -- "I'm not a big horse guy," said Beaupre, who owns four convenience/grocery stores in the Carrabassett Valley area. "But that's definitely one of my top five sporting road trips." -- five baseball All-Star games, the Atlanta Olympics, Game 4 of last year's Stanley Cup finals and the NBA finals.

In July they plan on being in London for the Olympics.

"We just love sports," Beaupre said. "And I'm fortunate that Mike is associated with Budweiser. That's an advantage we have."

Runser is the central Maine distributor for Anheuser-Busch, so he has access to tickets others don't. The two got their Super Bowl tickets when they arrived Thursday.

This was Runser's 12th Super Bowl, Beaupre's fifth. "We sort of have a bucket list of sporting events we want to do," said Beaupre, adding that the Indianapolis 500 is on it.

They begin planning their sporting trips each year in January.

"We sit down and figure out what we want to do," Runser said. "We pick one event, then we look around the area to see what else we can do."

"Sort of a boys road trip," said Beaupre, while the two had a light lunch at the downtown Hard Rock Cafe.

The fact that Wescott, a close friend, is here with them makes this game even more special. "Carrabassett Valley is lucky to have him as an ambassador," Beaupre said.

Wescott, of course, is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle that ended his World Cup snowboard season. He's attending while wearing a sling.

"Recovery's going good," he said. "I'm going to be fine."

SIX HOURS before kickoff, Jack Bicknell Jr., an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants, took the time to pose for photos with his family in front of the J.W. Marriott hotel, with the gigantic decal of the Vince Lombardi Trophy on its front.

Bicknell's father, Jack Bicknell Sr., coached the University of Maine football team for five years.

(Continued on page 2)

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