Ford Sayre, Hanover High School, Dartmouth Ski Team
Winter Park, CO
Don’t invite me to your ski jump if you want it to stick around!
Growing up a Nordic combined skier in the Ford Sayre program with the Hollands and Hastings was about as idyllic as it gets. My jumping left a lot to be desired but occasionally I caught the good jumpers on the cross country course which earned me a spot on the Dartmouth cross country team half a decade after NCAA dropped jumping. Dartmouth continued to hold a jumping competition at its Winter Carnival even though the points didn’t count. I was their ‘star’ (only) jumper for most of my 4 years and Jeff (our USANS Story Project Curator) was the coach. The Dartmouth Vale de Tempe ski jump was torn down a few years after I graduated after being a 70+ year staple of Winter Carnival.
I never imagined I would be involved in the sport after college until Greg Poirier called me before graduation with a proposition… “Hey Tom, I’m leaving my position at Winter Park to coach the US Ski Team, how about you come and take over before you get a real job.” I had jumped in Steamboat numerous times but had never been to Winter Park and couldn’t imagine that anyone would pay me to be a jumping / Nordic combined coach. I quickly learned both Winter Park’s jumping heritage and its ties to Dartmouth. Landis Arnold and Dennis McGrane were both Winter Park and Dartmouth alums. Steve Bradley, the first General Manager of Winter Park was a Dartmouth graduate and his brother Dave Bradley a Dartmouth professor and ski jumping judge. It seemed I was destined and so I agreed to move west and give it a go for a couple of years before I got that real job.
It was humbling to join a program that started in 1940 and produced so many athletes, coaches, and officials. Olympians Landis Arnold, Dennis McGrane, Greg Boester, Bob Holme, Kerry Lynch, Todd Wilson, Dave Jarret, Ryan Heckman all started in Winter Park. I had big shoes to fill following Greg Poirier and Alan Johnson who led the program in the recent years before me. Mostly, I just tried not to make a fool of myself working alongside the top notch weekend coaching staff including Chuck Heckert, Frank Penney, Mike Berman, Jamie Scholl, Todd Scholl, Dennis McGrane and Landis Arnold. My first few years I got to chase Ryan Heckman and Ethan McGraw on the Nordic trails and around the country to events along with Steamboat coaches including Rick Mewborn, Zane Palmer, Todd Wilson, Gary Crawford, and Chris Gilbertson. Later after developing some scoring software, Alan Johnson tapped me to be the Chief of Timing and Scoring for jumping and Nordic combined events at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. I had one of the best seats in the house and only needed not repeat the Anders Haugen error of 1924.
Later in 2002, Intrawest became the operator of Winter Park Resort for the city of Denver who owns the resort. As with many jumps, the hills themselves were not in the way but the outrun was. Despite a community battle, the jumps were decommissioned in 2004 after a 64 year run to make room for a new learn to ski area. Intrawest agreed to name the new learning area after Harold “Pop” Sorensen who immigrated to America in 1929 from Norway as a competitive skier and went on to teach skiing to military troops in the US, the UK, and Italy. In 1958, Pop Sorensen founded the Winter Park Ski Jump School at Winter Park Resort. I never did get that real job, but I fired myself from ski jumping and Nordic combined before being associated with another historical jump program’s extinction.
Although this may be sacrilege to some in this community, in the spirit of #howdoyoufly, Winter Park continues to launch athletes in to the air and on to skiing careers. Former Winter Park jumper and current Winter Park Director of Mountain Maintenance Bob Holme started the local Snowboard program and subsequently developed the resort’s terrain parks. Five Winter Park Snowboard and Freeski athletes are currently on the US Ski Team thanks to Bob’s continued passion for skiing and riding at Winter Park Resort.
WHAT HAVE WE HERE? NORDIC COMBINED SURGES TO THE LEAD! In both donor and dollars!
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CONSIDER A DONATION IN (HIGHLY APPRECIATED) STOCK
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