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Ski notebook

Sugarloaf readies for Wescott homecoming

By Marty Basch and Tony Chamberlain
Globe Correspondents / March 4, 2010

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Thousands are expected at Sugarloaf Saturday to welcome home two-time snowboardcross Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott.

When the Maine snowboarder won his first gold in 2006, more than 2,000 people turned out at Sugarloaf, and resort officials are expecting similar numbers.

“The fact that he’s won the only two gold medals ever awarded in [snowboardcross] in Olympic history just confirms what everybody here at Sugarloaf already knew about him, that he’s one of the greatest snowboarders in the sport’s history,’’ said communication manager Ethan Austin. “And with two gold medals he can add ‘all-time Olympic great’ to his list of titles as well. It’s just incredible’’

Wescott is scheduled to address the crowd, along with Governor John Baldacci. An autograph session is slated for 2-4 p.m. in the base lodge.

Smith wins downhill
Leanne Smith followed her 18th- and 21st-place Olympic finishes by capturing the downhill title at the US Alpine Championships in Aspen, Colo. The Conway, N.H., skier beat US Ski Team members Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross with a time of 1:38.24 last Saturday.

The remaining events in the championships will be held March 19-22 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Nor-Am finals coming
Before reaching the level of the World Cup and Olympics, there are the Nor-Ams, and the finals are coming to northern New England.

Sanctioned by the International Ski Federation, Nor-Am races are important steppingstones for high-level American and Canadian skiers.

Burke Mountain in Vermont hosts super-G and super combined March 14-15, while giant slalom and slalom are at Waterville Valley March 17-18.

Burke offers discounted $25 lift tickets during the Nor-Ams, while Waterville Valley has scheduled a meet-and-greet with athletes from both countries March 17 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Coyote Grill.

Fashion, skiing, salute
It’s a sure bet ski fashion trends from traditional leather lederhosen to bold and flashy 1980s neon jackets will be worn by skiers and snowboarders in the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup Race at Cranmore in North Conway, N.H., Saturday and Sunday. A fund-raiser for the New England Ski Museum, the event, open to racers of all ages, honors the legacy of Austrian skimeister Hannes Schneider, who in 1939 brought his trendsetting ski techniques to America. The event also promotes the memory of the skiing soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who fought during World War II 65 years ago. Herbert Schneider, son of Hannes, is a 10th Mountain Division veteran expected to attend.

“Five veterans of the World War II 10th Mountain Division will race,’’ said ski museum executive director Jeff Leich. “When you reflect that it has been exactly 65 years since the 10th was in combat in Italy, it is pretty remarkable to see some of them still on skis. The oldest 10th racer is 95, while the youngest is 84.’’

Leich said that quite a few non-skiing 10th veterans will be on hand as well.

Long way to the top
Justin Freeman, a 2006 Olympian from New Hampton, N.H., is scheduled to defend his Ski to the Clouds title Sunday at Great Glen Trails in Pinkham Notch, N.H. The 10-kilometer course finishes after a tough 2,200-vertical-foot climb up the Mount Washington Auto Road . . . Some 40 Boston-area skiers and snowboarders are heading to Pats Peak in Henniker, N.H., this weekend for YouthFest 2010, a Boston Ski Party and Youth Enrichment Services effort to train the next wave of Olympians. Area coaches and local US Ski Team athletes will offer advice during the three days of skills building and competition. “It is an expensive sport which makes it difficult for many children to break into,’’ said Richard Ward of the Boston Ski Party in a statement . . . You’ll need smarts to win Mount Sunapee’s 4th annual Dummy Big Air Contest March 14. Prizes will be awarded for the highest launch, most spectacular crash, and best designed human form of a skier or snowboarder. There’s a $20 entry fee per dummy, with all money paid out as cash prizes. Rules stipulate that the dummy can weigh no more than 150 pounds, must be pulled to the top of the in-run by no more than three people, and must not contain “explosives or flammable materials.’’ The whole thing must be perched atop skis or a snowboard, and motorization is prohibited . . . Ross Powers is at Mount Sunapee to teach a snowboard camp Saturday.

BodeFest at Cannon
Cannon Mountain is only accepting online registrations for the first 400 Bode Miller fans who want to be part of BodeFest 2010 April 3. One of the highlights allows kids 18 and under to ski as a group on a private trail with the Olympic gold medalist, and other perks include a fun race, access for autographs, and souvenir race bibs and T-shirts. A $40 advance pass must be purchased in addition to a valid lift ticket for the day, with proceeds benefiting Turtle Ridge Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Miller that benefits youth athletics. Details are available at www.cannonmt.com.

Enduring qualities
The inaugural Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon, a 50-kilometer race, will have its first running March 13. Proceeds from the $70 entry fee benefit the New England Ski Museum, and the pre-registration deadline is March 10 . . . This Sunday, Gunstock will give away a free pair of lift tickets to drivers of the first 250 Volkswagen vehicles who show up at the resort . . . Attitash in Bartlett, N.H., is dropping Friday lift ticket prices to $39 . . . Pats Peak has $25 day lift tickets March 8-10. Bring three pet items with a total value of $15 and the ticket is $10 . . . Today begins 802 Thursdays at Jay Peak, when Vermonters pay $40 for lift tickets . . . Ski until 1 a.m. at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine, Saturday with $30 tickets from 7 p.m. on and $25 tickets from 10 on . . . Saddleback has gone to 2-for-$49 Wednesdays through the rest of the season . . . During Sundays in March, cross-country skiers who flash a pass from a previous Saturday at Great Glen Trails get a free trail pass. If you show a season pass from another Nordic area, you ski for half price.