July 5, 2022

For forty-two years we owned a ski condo in the picturesque town of Waterville Valley in the White Mountains of NH. Last week we removed the last items from the condo as the new owners are ready to move in. The condo has been a haven for many XC and Alpine skiers, hikers and some who just like the mountains and the outdoors. Driving back to our home in Milford, NH Anita and I discussed the many famous, and not so famous, people that have stayed in our abode. Listed below are a few of the famous who have been at the condo.

Richard Weber. Richard is not only the world’s most famous arctic explorer, but also a phenomenal XC skier. He won twenty Canadian National Ski Titles and competed for Canada in four World Championships. In the 1980’s, we were asked if we had room for some Canadian skiers participating in the weekend races. Anita drove up on Thursday, but I had to work.

I arrived about 9:00 Friday evening and met Richard and another Canadian skier. Richard won the race on Friday and was sitting by the dining room table looking at what I thought was a watch on his hand. It was not a watch, but the first heart monitor I had ever seen. He won all races that weekend. Over the years we became good friends and he and his wife Josee have visited our Jenex facility in Milford, NH.

Kris Freeman. Kris always liked the trails in Waterville Valley, and when he was the dominant distance skier on the US team he used our condo for a week of training. As the only US male to win the Under 23 World Championship and with 16 US National Titles he is an American legend in the world of XC. (Kris is the roller skier on our website index page.)

Vladimir Smirnov. The Olympic and World Champion used our condo when he was invited by the US Olympic committee to do XC ski clinics in United States.

I first met Vladimir and family at the 1993 Nordic World Championships in Sweden. While at the Championships, ski tuning guru Lars Svensson introduced me to Vladimir’s manager. A few days later the manager asked me if I would like to have dinner with the Smirnov family and of course I accepted. The Smirnov’s had lived in Sweden only one year but spoke Swedish almost fluently. We got along very well and over the next nine years we met every year but one. Vladimir, his wife Valentina and daughters Anna and Karolina stayed for a week at our house in NH and we visited them twice in Sundsvall, Sweden.

When Vladimir retired from the World Cup Circuit he was elected to numerous committees and organizations where English was the universal language. Vladimir was fluent in Russian, German and Swedish, but not proficient in English. Shortly thereafter I got a call at work from Vladimir. When I answered the phone, he told me not to speak Swedish, only English. I asked him where he was, and he said.  “Moved to England for two months. Living with an English family and being tutored every day in English.” Two months later his English was surprisingly good.

As I was writing this blog Anita told me that Valentina told her she got married to Vladimir on April 26, 1986, the day of the world’s most destructive atomic explosion at the power plant in Chernobyl. This was in the Soviet Union era, and they did not find out about the horrendous accident for several days. The Soviet Union tried to hide the accident, but the radioactivity was so strong and spread so far north that people were advised not to pick berries in Scandinavia, and they also worried about reindeer meat being radioactive.

 The Smirnov’s became Swedish Citizens in 1998, have a successful business and still live in Sundsvall.

Dick Taylor: After my junior year at Dartmouth I took a year off. When I returned to school, Dick lived in the same dorm and that’s where we met. He was an outstanding XC skier and in 1964 he was a member of the US Olympic Team. Dick graduated from Dartmouth in 1959 and after his stint in the Army and the Olympics he became a student again. He attended Kiel University in Germany and then Yale.\

Until the late 1980’s Dick held several prominent positions with the US Nordic Ski Team. In 1987, he joined the faculty at Gould Academy in Maine where he thought German, Latin and English. Dick was also the coach for the Gould XC ski team. When he started teaching at Gould Academy we connected for the first time since Dartmouth.

Dick has been a mentor to many skiers and has written numerous articles on the science of training and a book entitled No Pain, No Gain?. He is also a poet and his book of poems, The Absence of Strangers was published in 2017. He lives with his wife Sally, in Bethel, Maine. He has been a good friend for a very long time.

Jim Galanes. Jim is a legend in the world of XC skiing. He is a three time Olympian, ten times US National Champion and had several top results on the World Cup Circuit. After he retired from racing, Jim coached the US Ski Team for six years. I did not meet Jim until the early 90’s when in 1992 he became a coach at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. In 1996 Jim left Stratton to become the Coach for Alaska Pacific University. The APU program was very successful and Jim stayed at APU until 2006.

STAR ski wax company in Italy did not have a Distributor in North America. At the time Magnar Dalen was the head ski tuner for the Norwegian XC Ski Team. I knew Magnar and he suggested to STAR that they contact me. I was still ski racing but knew nothing about STAR wax. Magnar agreed to send me test data on STAR from the World Cup races. With the data in hand I convinced Jim to try STAR for his Stratton Ski Team. Galanes liked the ski wax and together we wrote a ski tuning guide for STAR ski wax. This was the beginning of a long friendship.

The skiers mentioned above are a few of the many that have visited the condo. We will miss Waterville, but at our age it’s time to move on.