Ski Museum Of Maine Holds First Annual Seniors Race.

Medaling were left to right: Leigh Breidenbach (Turner). Ginny Bousum (Kingfield), Paul Rogers (Camden), Jill Gray (Farmington), Michael Becker (Winthrop), Tip Kimball (Cumberland Center)
Credit: David Eden

Just when the afternoon light was at its best, the Ski Museum of Maine hosted its first Legends of Maine GS Race at Sunday River. The goal was to benefit the growing museum based in Kingfield as well as to show racing for seniors is both doable and fun.

Off and running. Credit: David Eden

Twenty skiers, 50 to 80 somethings, were assigned decade-appropriate heats. Younger competitors presumably most able to handle the ruts went last. Everyone enjoyed a well pitched course, groomed to perfection by Sunday River officials on Monday Morning off Barker Mountain.

Many racers were veterans of Sunday River’s Wednesday race group clubs, but for some it was a step up from the usual NASTAR course.

Tip Kimball, the only male to enter the 50-59 category, was fastest overall. Maybe youth does still have some advantages. Greg Sweetser, Executive Director of Ski Maine, was only 5.34 seconds behind in the 60-69 division, not bad for an older guy.

Leigh Breidenbach of Turner and a manager for Sport Thoma ski shops, took first in the 60 plus category. She says she raced because, 1) she is a board member and 2) she was the director of the Ski Industries Program at UMaine, Farmington for many years under Doc DesRoches, so she supports the industry any way she can. Her husband, Bede Wellford, 64, was gamely racing “on a new hip.”

Beth Hodgkins in the 60 plus group.
Credit: David Eden

Wende Gray of Bethel and President of the Ski Museum of Maine, also took part. The last time she entered a race was in 1988 at Lost Valley for a ski association event. Her words of triumph after this race: “I did not crash, and I finished.” She took the gates wide to stay out of the ruts, enough to earn a bronze medal.

Top woman finisher in the 70 plus category was Virginia Bousum, 77, of Kingfield, and 13th overall.

Virginia was nervous despite her freshly tuned Dynastar GS skis, her “visualization” prep of Michaela Schiffrin running GS on YouTube, and not listening to the other “guys” warning each other about the tricky gates ahead. Her pre-race training had gotten sidetracked by teaching six-year-olds over the busy school vacation week at Sugarloaf. For moral support, she brought along her granddaughter who had taken the day off from school.

Ultimately though, “It was fun, just ski down, nothing tricky. It was a nice course. They set it up really well,” she says.

For the record, her last major race was a Bonne Bell suntan lotion sponsored race back in the 70s at Sugarloaf.

Bill Hayes, 82, placed third in the 70 plus category on his G9 GS skis. He continues to train at Sunday River with the kids from Gould Academy, where he used to coach. No slouch, he was also on the UNH ski team and coached the U.S. Ski Team. A downhill specialist, he came close to the 1955 Olympics in Cortina but an injured leg kept him out.

How was the race?

“Great, but I gave it too much room. What else am I going to do, sit at home?”

An awards ceremony following at the Barker Bar, with food and drink and Gray’s presentation of medals, plus two trophies, Centrum, ski wax, and Bandaids.

Going forward, plans are to move the race around to other Maine ski areas to spread the word. With any luck the race will take place at Sugarloaf next year with more legends in the making.

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