On the World Cup freestyle mogul skiing circuit, Dave and Alison Digravio of Farmington and Jeremy Cota of Greenville are putting in an incredible season. In March, Bethel native Simon Dumont, one of the world’s best freestyle skiers, returns to Sunday River to host the Dumont Cup. Though two-time Olympic snowboardcross gold medalist (and Farmington native) Seth Wescott is sidelined for the season, Straton’s Alex Tuttle is competing well. The list goes on and on.

This current generation of stellar athletes isn’t the only one to come from Maine. The Maine Ski Hall of Fame is full of skiers and riders known on a national — and even a worldwide — stage. Rumford’s John Roderick won at least 77 trophies, medals and bowls in a career that began in the 1920s. Auburn’s Tom Upham was on the ’68 Olympic Nordic combined team. Even my co-columnist John Christie, a Camden native and Bowdoin grad, was a dominant skier in his college years.

Some of the credit for the excellence of athletes goes to two of Maine’s elite academies. Gould Academy and Carabassett Valley Academy have produced a staggering number of world-class athletes. Though students from all over can attend both schools, many are from the Pine Tree State.

Founded in 1836, Bethel’s Gould Academy was the region’s high school until Telstar opened in 1969. Since then, Gould has been a private boarding and day school. The academy’s location (only six miles from Sunday River) along with a renowned winter competition program, makes it a prime location for aspiring skiers and snowboarders. Nearly half of the school’s students are from Maine. Freestyle skiers Troy Murphy and former U.S. ski team member Bump Heldman are just a few of the Gould alums that have competed on the world stage.

Since it was founded in 1982, Carabassett Valley Academy has produced an impressive 11 Olympians, 80 national titles, 10 X-Games competitors, 19 NCAA and USCSA All-Americans, 28 national team members and six world champions. Born from the Sugarloaf Regional Ski Educational Foundation, the school has been successful in its original mission to create an academy to draw Maine athletes, lessening the need to attend ski-focused institutions outside of the state. As many have said, “the road to the U.S. ski team runs down Narrow Gauge,” referencing a popular race slope at Sugarloaf.

While Gould and CVA are college preparatory academies, both schools recognize the importance of getting skiers on the hill and competing young. The Gould Academy Competition program (GACP) and Carabassett’s SCVA programs get children as young as 7 and 8 on the slopes of Sunday River and Sugarloaf in weekend programs.

Training aside, there’s also something to be said for simply growing up enduring Maine’s East Coast skiing. Mainers are raised on ice, rocks, stumps and thin cover. Compared to mountains out west, the classic trails of the east are narrow, with lots of twists and turns. Maine glades are tight, and landings in our terrain parks are usually not soft. One of my favorite shirts on SkiTheEast.net reads “Snow Sleet Rain Ice Powder Slush Stumps Bumps Rocks Guts Grit Glory,” which covers the Maine ski experience pretty well.

Or maybe it’s just something in the Maine water.

Whatever magic combination keeps pumping great athletes out of our state, we can rest assured we’ll see many more generations of Mainers on the world stage. It’s a thought worth remembering the next time someone a fraction of your age zips by on the hill.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]