June 30, 2013

Supporters believe Black Mountain will stay open

Skiers are banding to help the nonprofit ski area, which said it would close because of lack of money.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Black Mountain means a great deal to ski enthusiasts and businesses in the Rumford area, who are working to reverse the decision to close the ski area.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Black Mountain stands alone as a key Nordic venue for high school and college ski racers. High school coaches and Maine skiers are watching what happens closely.

A MAINE VENUE

The loss of the ski area that hosted U.S. Nordic championships two of the past three years would impact the entire Maine ski community, high school coaches said.

"I think Black Mountain has been our go-to place for the state championships for a number of years. That would be a huge loss for us," said Ted Hall, the Yarmouth High principal who sits on the Maine Principals' Association ski committee.

"They set a high standard. That's how championships should be run."

Black Mountain, which boasts nearly 30 miles of Nordic trails, was expected to host at least one of the three Nordic state championships next winter.

"That would be devastating to Nordic skiing in Maine. It is one of the premier venues for Nordic skiing. It can host up to 500 to 600 skiers in a day," said Jay Lindsey, the Nordic ski coach at Winthrop High.

Meanwhile, Rumford skiers who have grown up and raised their families at the ski area wonder what the future holds, but remain determined to change its fate.

The members of the 96-year-old Chisholm Ski Club were in shock last week.

"My parents were original stockholders. I grew up at Black Mountain," said Terry Richard, 54, secretary of the Chisholm Ski Club.

"It's such a tragedy for the community but there was a lot of positive energy at the meeting. We are going to keep it open."

Arsenault, a Rumford native, said the mountain hosted its first Nordic world championship in 1950, a year without snow in the original location at Lake Placid, N.Y.

The successful event then put Black Mountain on the world map.

As recently as 2011 and 2012, the ski area hosted a U.S. Nordic championship, drawing 500 athletes from across the country, as well as 150 Maine volunteers who came to help.

Those in Rumford who have supported Black Mountain in the past are not backing down now.

"It's coming together. We're putting a powerful message out there. My phone has been ringing all day," Arsenault said. "I'm optimistic because I've got to be. We need $100,000 but my goal is $150,000. And I think we'll get there sooner than 30 days. That mountain means so much to the community."

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

 

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