Mount Cranmore hosts breezy, beautiful
Gibson Trophy Race BY BILL MCCOLLOM
Mark George isn’t distracted by the views
at the start of the Gibson Cup slalom.
THE GIBSON TROPHY RACE attracted a large and competitive gath-
ering of New England masters to Cranmore Mountain from Jan. 29 – 31.
Seventy years of tradition and an opportunity to join ski racing’s pantheon
will do that. Most came to enjoy the sunny slopes of Cranmore, views of
Mount Washington and an energized social scene.
But there were also those who hoped to place their name on the perma-
nent trophy alongside ski racing legends such as Toni Matt, Penny Pitou
and Tom Corcoran. In the case of 2010 women’s Gibson Cup winner, Jesse
McAleer, she arrived gunning for her fifth Gibson Trophy win. The men’s
winner, Terrence Fogarty, didn’t think he had a chance. But in both cases,
winning the Gibson didn’t come easily. They had to earn it.
When racers arrived on Friday morning for the GS, the opening race of
the two-day GS/slalom combined competition, temperatures were in the
single digits and a steady 35 miles-per-hour wind was ravaging the slopes.
Twigs, branches, any traces of soft snow and an assortment of objects not
tied down were quickly swept away to Maine in the gale, leaving a layer of
crust and ice on the slopes.
Local ski racing legend Tyler Palmer happened to swing by the race that
morning, but with the wind sounding like a freight train as it ripped through
the trees, he never got out of his car. At the awards ceremony on Saturday,
Palmer quipped: “I love all you guys, but there was no way I was going out
there. You guys are still crazy, but I admire your spirit.”
Spirit was the name of the day. Course setters created a masterful route
44 | Ski Racing FEBRUARY 22, 2010
over the windswept headwall. Panels were taken off the inside gates to keep
racers from becoming shish-ka-bobbed and, seemingly oblivious to the con-
ditions, masters racers inspected the course and made their way to the start.
Even as the winds increased, causing the lifts to shut down before the sec-
ond run, masters ski-jored to the start behind a fleet of snowmobiles and
“It was a great adventure,” said Class 6 racer Derek Griggs. “These are the
days you’ll always remember.” No one was going to argue that point, par-
ticularly Katie George and Ben Green. Class 1’s George had taken a lead of
0.21 seconds over Jesse McAleer (Class 3) going into Saturday’s slalom and
Class 1’s Green had nosed in front of Class 2’s Luke Heibert by 0.40. Ter-
rence Fogarty (Class 4) was just off the radar screen in fifth place, more than
three seconds off the pace.
Mt. Washington Valley native Jessie McAleer had nothing but praise for
George after the GS. “She skied great and deserved the win.” said McAleer.
“With the wind and rocks and ice, it was more than just a test of ski racing.
But losing did sharpen my focus for the slalom.”
When the wind abated on Saturday morning, 0 degrees never felt balmier.
The skies were clear and those bold enough to extend their heads out of
their jackets were rewarded with stunning views of every wrinkle on Mt.
Washington. Long and undulating, the slalom hill provided plenty of chal-
lenge, particularly considering the decidedly firm snow.
In the first run, both McAleer and Fogarty began to make their moves.