By David Miles, Sports Correspondent
The Woodstock Ski Runners will host the annual Fisk Trophy Race this Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Suicide Six Ski Area. The Fisk is the continuously longest running race on the continent, now in its 77th year.
Though the race, which began in the mid-1930s, survived through the World War II years, its streak was nearly interrupted twice by Mother Nature. In the late 1950s during a nearly snowless winter, it was moved to Pico where the snow cover was still only marginal at best.
Twenty years later in 1977 the snows again did not come. However, Mt. Tom still had snowmaking and the legacy continued. The race was held on the “Snowmaking Trail,” which was to the left of the Poma lift looking up at the ski area.
Always attracting a stellar field, this year it may be the strongest yet. Three members of the US Ski Team are scheduled to attend this year, including Robert Cone, a former Suicide Six racer. In addition, Canadian skier Dominique Garrand should be back to defend his crown and do battle with current World Cup competitor Jonathon Nordbotten of Norway. Both skiers have competed as members of the strong UVM team in the past.
Several other local alumni should be participating as well. They include Brad Farrell (16th last year) and Chris McKenna (21st in 2013). Both men started skiing here around the age of nine and love “coming home,” as well as being part of the tradition of the Fisk race.
Past champions of the Fisk race include two time champions Jimmy Cochran, Tim Kelley, and Brad Hogan. Another highlight was when local racer Andrew McNealus triumphed two years ago in 2012, following in the ski tracks of his father Neal, the 1975 champion.
The course, traditionally set up on the middle of the Face, receives great praise from skiers year after year. Kelley calls it “one of the best slalom hills in the world.” And, as McKenna noted: “It’s the biggest non-collegiate race in the east.”
The exciting action gets underway Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at Suicide Six.