Former USANS BOD Member, Chairman of the USANS Goverance Committee
1966: When Bennington, VT was introduced to Nordic Skiing
Erlon “Bucky” Broomhall came to Bennington, Vt in the fall of 1966 as our high school’s new physical education teacher and ski team coach. Although our high school had a ski program for some time, its focus was predominantly Alpine Skiing. That was about to change forever.
As a freshman, little did I, nor my teammates, know that for the previous two years Bucky Broomhall coached the Mexico, Me high school nordic ski team; referred to this day as one of the greatest ever high school ski teams ever. Four of his skiers made the Junior National Team in cross country skiing. One was the Junior National Nordic Combined Champion and in the previous year one was the Junior National Cross Country Champion.
I’ll never forget the first day of fall practice when Coach Broomhall handed me, and my best friend, Peter Graves, skis, boots and poles and told us we were now cross country ski racers and ski jumpers. All throughout October and November Coach Broomhall had the boys and girls teams training together; playing soccer, running a power line up Woodford Mountain and tumbling in the gym all to build coordination and endurance. On the weekends, he had us cutting x/c ski trails and clearing land for construction of a 20 meter jump at the Prospect Mountain Ski Area; now the home of Prospect Mountain Nordic Ski Center and the Williams College Nordic ski team.
December brought snow and Nordic Skiing to Bennington, VT.
In addition to weekday high school meets, Bucky took those of us interested in competing in Eastern Series races throughout New England virtually every weekend on his own time and money. And the rest is history.
Bucky was one of the first in the nation to coach a girl’s team, bringing the first women’s team to the Junior Olympics in 1968. In 1969, he left his coaching position to start the Torger Tokle League to develop skiers not yet in high school. The Torger Tokle League is now known as the Bill Koch Ski League; the youth ski league of the New England Ski Association (NENSA).
He returned to high school coaching in the late 1970’s and 80’s for several years, then again in the early 1990s where he won back to back boy’s state championships and both the boys and girls state championships in the 1991-92 season. He retired from high school coaching with a record of winning five state championships and helping 25 skiers to the Junior Olympics.
Originally from Rumford, Me, Bucky was the 12th of 15 children and began skiing as a child following in the footsteps of older brothers Wendall (Chummy), Ray and Charlie (Slim); all members of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. A Navy veteran, Bucky served from 1951-1855.
After the Navy, Bucky enrolled at Western State College in Colorado and was a member of the ski team for four years. He was a Nordic combined skier and helped the team to the NCAA Championships in 1956 and 1957. In his senior year Bucky finished 7th in the X/C National Championships and in the top 20 in jumping. Based on those results, he was invited to compete in the 1960 Winter Olympic trials in Squaw Valley, Ca.
In 2002, Bucky became a FIS Official and was chosen as a technical delegate for a World Cup event in Lake Placid and to work at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. And in 2009 Bucky was inducted into the Vermont Ski Museum Hall of Fame.
I still see Bucky, and his wife Frances, out and about and it always brings a big smile to my face. He will be forever remembered as an advocate of youth skiing and as “Coach”.
Click below to see a nice video produced for Bucky’s 2009 induction into the Vermont Ski Hall of Fame