A comprehensive Nordic ski exhibit opened at the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Nov. 2 with two floors of extensive cross country skiing memorabilia on display. This is clearly the largest exhibit of its kind about the sport.
The “Kick and Glide: Vermont’s Nordic Skiing Legacy” exhibit at the museum displayed the many facets of XC skiing - the personalities, development of athletes, competition and of XC ski areas and recreational skiers; the evolution of technique, equipment, and disciplines; and the impact of Vermonters on the sport.
Among those in attendance were Vermont past Olympians Larry Damon (1956, 1960, 1964, 1968); Dennis Donahue (1976); Stan Dunklee (1976, 1980); Jim Galanes (1976, 1980, 1984); Marc Gilbertson (1998); Bob Gray (1968, 1972); Trina Hosmer (1972); Martha Rockwell (1972, 1976); and Bucky Broomhall, who started the TorgerTokel League in 1969, now known as the Bill Koch League to develop skiers not yet in high school.
“It was a joyous day in the spirit of friendship and the Nordic sport," extolled Peter Graves. "We are indeed fortunate to have all these powerful experiences bonded together by sport.”
Vintage Synthetic Nordic Track with Fischer Zero Mohair skis (1970s), the latest trail grooming equipment, snowmaking technologies, adaptive ski equipment and a chance to try a hand at Nordic ski erg laser biathlon took place outside the historic 1818 Old Town Hall, which is home to the museum in the heart of Stowe.
Vermont XC ski areas such as Trapp Family Lodge and Viking Nordic Center are purported to be among the first commercial XC ski areas developed in the USA. There is a strong contingent of XC ski area operators who started XC ski businesses in Vermont and remained in the business for many years. They organized a group association, marketed the sport, and developed clubs and programs.
The grand opening ceremonies included a ribbon cutting and exhibit introductions about Vermont as an XC ski destination and a part of national and regional efforts to promote XC skiing. Equipment and clothing aspects of the industry were introduced and learning to ski was also a focus. Various films were shown including, “I Won a Purple Ribbon” about kids XC skiing with Bill Koch, who was the first American (from Vermont) to win an Olympic medal in cross country skiing in 1976 and a World Cup crown in 1982.
The Nordic ski exhibit was spearheaded by volunteers who are Vermonters and have been involved in the outdoor business for many years. They joined museum curator Meredith Scott in an exhaustive effort to find and contact pillars of the XC ski world linked to Vermont.
“We are fortunate to have the help of men and women associated with Nordic skiing in Vermont since the late 60’s to assemble the remarkable story of how the Green Mountain State’s contributions shaped the sport and culture”, said Rob Center, Exhibit Chair.
Bob Woodward, (long time outdoors guru journalist and more from Bend, Ore.), began looking for a home for his collection of XC ski gear.
“Like so many who love the sport, for decades, I couldn't bear to get rid of anything no matter how dated it was. Then a chance remark by ski writer Michael Brady led me to the Vermont Ski Museum. I am eternally grateful for the Museum accepting my donation, which I give in honor of all the Vermonter cross country ski greats and for all the wonderful times I've had skiing in the state,” he said.
Appreciation was given to all those who donated items and supported this exhibit and special thanks to apparel product supplier Helly Hansen Inc., which was instrumental in the exhibit coming to fruition.
This yearlong exhibit coincides with the 2014 Winter Olympics and some people in the industry are hoping that it becomes the initial development of a museum for cross country skiing in America. Kick and Glide, Vermont’s Nordic Skiing Legacy, will continue through Oct. 13, 2014.
Photo: Vermont Ski & Snowboard Museum Nordic Legacy exhibit of historical XC ski bases.