Some of the old-time skiers reading this column might remember the Dutch Hill ski area in Heartwellville, a village that’s part of Readsboro.
According to the New England Lost Ski Project (www.nelsap.org) Dutch Hill opened in 1944 and was quite popular in its time. It was small, with about a dozen trails fed by a T-bar, a J-bar, and a rope tow. The trails ranged in difficulty from the novice Dyke to the intermediate Yankee Doodle to the very difficult Windmill and Christiana.
The ski area was located in a perfect spot — in the southern spine of the Green Mountains — for getting lots of natural snow, about 110 inches each winter. It was close to the Massachusetts border, which meant it was easily accessible to southern New England and New York skiers. In its hey-day, thousands of skiers would visit every winter.
But the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s gave way to harder times in the 1970s. A combination of several bad snow years, changing tastes, and stiffer competition doomed the existence of little ski areas such as Dutch Hill, as skiers bypassed them for bigger resorts, such as Mount Snow and Stratton.
Dutch Hill closed for good in 1985 and, gradually, the ski slopes returned to their natural state.
But skiing is about to return to Dutch Hill. The Dutch Hill Alliance of Skiers and Hikers (DHASH) recently formed to work with the current owner of the land — the U.S. Forest Service — to open up some of Dutch Hill’s former ski trails to human-powered skiing.
By human-powered, they mean backcountry skiing without chair lifts or gondolas. You climb the hill on your skis (climbing skins are a must for traction), then ski down.
Working with the Forest Service, DHASH volunteers spent the fall clearing brush and blown-down trees from some of the more accessible trails. According to the DHASH website (www.dhash4vt.org), they have cleared enough brush so that the Yankee Doodle slope is skiable from top to bottom.
DHASH has also been clearing downed trees on the Readsboro to the Massachusetts border section of the Catamount Trail, a nordic ski trail network that stretches the length of Vermont. The last work party of the season is planned for Sunday, Dec. 3.
A series of tours on Dutch Hill led by DHASH volunteers will start on Jan. 7 (weather-permitting). These tours are strictly for the advanced backcountry skier.
For cross-country skiers, DHASH plans some easier introductory tours in January and February on the former Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad right-of-way from Harriman Dam to Route 100 in Readsboro that’s part of the Catamount Trail.
For more information on the Dec. 3 work party, or the winter ski tours, contact Sam Bartlett at email@example.com or 413-624-0192.
Vermont athletes get ready for 2018 Winter Olympics
• We’re only a couple of months away from the 2018 Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea, and Vermont will be well-represented on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Raring to go for a chance at making history is Susan Dunklee of Barton. Back in February, the daughter of nordic ski legend Stan Dunklee became the first American woman to capture a biathlon individual medal at an Olympic or World Cup event.
Dunklee was the silver medalist at last season’s world biathlon championship, which also made her the first woman to clinch a spot on the 2018 Olympic Team.
Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport where the United States has never won a medal, but Dunklee looks like she could become the first U.S. athlete to win a medal in biathlon at the Olympics.
Another legendary family in Vermont nordic skiing, the Caldwells, will have two representatives in South Korea.
Sophie Caldwell, a Stratton Mountain School graduate from Peru, has four World Cup medals and a sixth-place finish in the 2014 Olympics, while her cousin, Patrick Caldwell, the 2015 NCAA nordic champion at Dartmouth, will be going to his first Winter Games.
Freestyle skier Devin Logan of West Dover already knows what it’s like to be an Olympic medalist, wining a silver medal in women’s slopestyle in 2014.
The two-time (2014, 2016) World Cup champion hasn’t yet qualified for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. She has three qualifying races in the next few weeks, and has to finish in the top 3 in at least two of them to make the team.
Kelly Clark, the grande dame of women’s snowboarding, spends more time these days out in California than in her home town of West Dover, but she will always be a child of Mount Snow.
Clark has been to four Olympics and has a gold and two bronze medals in the halfpipe. The only woman to ever land a 1080 in competition will be trying to win a medal in her fifth Winter Games.
Mikaela Shiffrin went to Burke Mountain Academy in the Northeast Kingdom, and she will not only try to defend the Olympic Slalom title she won in 2014, but will also attempt to become the first American skier to win three medals in the same Winter Olympics.
The defending overall World Cup champion was at Killington over the weekend for a race, and Shiffrin finished second in the giant slalom and first in the slalom to maintain her first place spot in this season’s World Cup standings.
Stratton Mountain School will be rooting for Lindsey Jacobellis, the 2003 graduate who has been to three Olympics and has a silver medal in snowboardcross. She may be 32, but she could still be a factor. She won a gold in the World Championships this year, her fifth gold at that level.
Other Olympians with Vermont ties to watch include Ryan Cochran-Siegle (alpine skiing, Starksboro), Nolan Kasper (alpine skiing, Warren), Jessie Diggins and Simi Hamilton (nordic skiing, both are training at Stratton), Katherine Ogden (nordic skiing, Landgrove), Liz Stephen (nordic skiing, East Montpelier), Ida Sargent (nordic skiing, Barton), Mike Rogals (skeleton sledding, Orwell), Tara Geraghty-Moats (ski jumping, West Fairlee), Alex Diebold (snowboarding, Manchester), Ty Walker (snowboarding, Stowe), and Amanda Pelkey (women’s hockey, Montpelier).
Ayotte signs with Franklin Pierce
• Brattleboro Union High School senior Megyn Ayotte recently signed her letter of intent to play Division II women’s lacrosse at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.
There is already a Brattleboro connection to Franklin Pierce’s lacrosse program. The women’s coach is Maud Lonergan, who was a two-time Marble Valley League Coach of the Year during her eight seasons leading the BUHS girls’ lacrosse team. FPU was 8-8 last season.
The speedy Ayotte, a midfielder, led the Colonels to an 8-9 record in 2017, earning both MVL and All-State First Team honors. She raised her profile even more when she was one of 40 underclassmen in the state to play in the Rising Stars lacrosse game at Middlebury High School in June. She scored two goals in that game.
Ayotte was also the goalkeeper for this season’s BUHS girls’ soccer team and was a shooting guard for the 2016-17 girls’ basketball team.
College programs are starting to look at the BUHS lacrosse program as a fertile source for talented players. Maddie Rollins (Longwood), and Mariah Lesure and Sarah Clark (Castleton) are among the recent BUHS graduates who went on to play collegiate lacrosse.
Ayotte plans to major in sports management and marketing at Franklin Pierce.
Moore, Richards win Turkey Trot
• Willie Moore, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Tammy Richards, 43, of Williamsville were the overall winners of the 2017 Red Clover Rovers Turkey Trot 3-Miler, held on Upper Dummerston Road in Brattleboro on Nov. 23.
Moore finished in 15 minutes, 19 seconds — exactly one minute ahead of the runner-up, 2016 champion Isaac Freitas-Eagan, 17, of Guilford.
Richards won the women’s division for the fourth time in six years with a time of 18:35. Sisters Sarah and Haile Lange of Brattleboro placed second and third in 19:12 and 19:13.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 12 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw Team 5 (37-23) still in first place, but not by much. Team 1 (36-24) moved into second place, while Team 3 is now in third (35-25). Team 8 (33-27) moved up into fourth and Team 2 (32-28) is fifth, followed by Team 7 (30-30), Team 9 (26.5-33.5), Team 6 (26-34), Team 10 (25-35), and Team 4 (19.5-40.5).
Lorraine Taylor had the women’s high handicap game (259) and series (699). Jerry Dunham had the men’s high handicap game (247), while Peter Cross had the high handicap series (665). Team 4 had the high team handicap game (875) and series (2,497).
Five bowlers rolled 500-plus series: Charles Marchant (548), Marty Adams (582), Dunham (543), Cross (549), and Warren Corriveau Sr. (511). Adams had a pair of 200 games, and Corriveau also rolled a 200. Cross had a 203, and Dunham had the high game for the week with a 224.