Published DateSmall lift shack destroyed by fireworks fire
By Tom Eastman
CONWAY — The 17th annual Hannes Schneider Cup was notable for being the first since the passing last June of former owner and longtime Cranmore skimeister Herbert Schneider (1920-2012), but Herbert was there in spirit.
It was also noteworthy for a small lift shack fire that followed the Saturday night Cranapalooza after the racing.
“The whole weekend was in many respects a tribute to Herbert,” said Jeff Leich, executive director of the New England Ski Museum, the Franconia-based nonprofit organization which presents the event as its biggest fund-raiser of the year.
Leich penned an article on the life of Herbert Schneider which was printed in the annual race program. His and the late Doris Schneider's two sons, Hannes and Christoph Schneider, presided over many of the festivities, including walking through an arch of ski poles at the opening ceremonies Saturday morning. They were joined by Hannes Schneider and Betsy Schneider's teenage sons, recent Ski Club Arlberg inductees Hannes and Markus Schneider, and Christoph's fiancee Hannah Sullivan.
The weekend ended with a talk on Herbert's life prior to coming to North Conway in February 1939 with his famous father Hannes, mother Ludwina and sister Herta after Cranmore developer Harvey Dow Gibson won Hannes' Schneider's release from Nazi captivity under house arrest in Germany.
The talk was presented at the historic Eastern Slope Inn's Legends Room Sunday morning by visiting Austrian ski historian Christof Thony of the Klostertal Museum of the Scheiders' hometown Arlberg region of Austria.
Friday evening's festivities included a welcoming reception and dinner, followed by a torchlight parade, which culminated with the setting of torches onto the snow near the base of the North Slope in the shape of a large No. “75,” in honor of Cranmore's 75th anniversary season.
Among the ski luminaries who were present were Herbert Schneider's fellow 10th Mountain Ski Troop veterans Nelson Bennett, 98, of Yakima, Wash., and Dick Calvert, the latter of whom took the men's 80 to 89 division while racing for the 10th Mountain Veterans team captained by Ray Gilmore Jr. The team was tops in the military cup category and 18th overall with a time of 3 minutes, 44.26 seconds.
In addition to Gilmore and Calvert, other 10th Veteran team members included Matthew Fitzgerald, Cameron Fitzgerald and Robert Linscott.
Another special attendee was Mint Dole, son of late National Ski Patrol Association founder and 10th Mountain Division founder Minot “Minnie” Dole.
In addition to being the 75th year of Cranmore, he year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the National Ski Patrol and the 70th anniversary of the 10th Mountain Division's first year of training at Camp Hale, Colo.
Team Magic 104 prevails
A total of 42 teams of five members entered, with more than 200 racers competing. “I think that was the most we have ever had,” said Leich.
Placing first in the team category was Magic 104 in 2:51.27, consisting of top Mountain Meisters racer Kevin Hamlin, Tim Jackson, Tim Simoneau, Joey Miller and Jay Baldassarre.
Placing second was the Spoonatics, 2:52.44 (Ron Lien, Guy Nickerson, John Spooner, Keegan Rice and Greg Norman).
Coming in third was Cranmore 1 in 2:53.54. They won the Carroll Reed Ski Industry Team Cup. (Sean Pfau, Bryan Bailey, Kelli MacDonald, Doug MacDonald and Chris Bartlett.
Kelli MacDonald was the top female in 34.31 seconds, followed by Heather Drummond of King Pine (35.65) and Elzabeth Robert in 36.82.
Tops for the men was Cranmore I's Sean Pfau (32.49), followed by Ben Drummond of King Pine (32.86) and Kevin Hamlin of Magic (33).
Winner of the Doug “Rooster” Campbell Spirit Award for the third year in a row were the If Pink Pigs Could Fly team, consisting of young pink-helmeted skiers Elizabeth Blair, Madeline Merrill, Erin Ohlenbusch, Camden Capozzoli and Tessa Capozzoli.
Hans Bauer of White Mountain Outside TV 16 won first place in the vintage attire contest, wearing an Austrian lederhosen and Bavarian hat outfit. The family of late ski shop and ski school founders Carroll and Kay Reed were also well-represented.
Ice carving was part of Saturday's events.
Also on Saturday afternoon, local author Tom Eastman autographed copies of his new History Press book, “Cranmore Mountain: A History of 75 Years,” and New England Ski Museum board member Jeremy Davis signed copies of his three books on the New England Lost Ski Areas Project. A silent auction was also held. Another highlight of the weekend was the return of the Bavarian Oompah Band, which performed at the awards party Saturday.
Military units partiicpating included the active duty 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, N.Y., and the Vermont National Guard Army Warfare School, the 10th Mountain Division Descendants Team and 10th Mountain Veterans.
Herbert Schneider won a Bronze medal for bravery in Italy in April 1945. He returned to Cranmore in 1946 to help his father at the Hannes Schneider Ski School at Cranmore. Following his father's death in 1955, he took over management of the school.
He and partners purchased Cranmore from Mrs. Helen Gibson in 1963. During his tenure, Cranmore helped many youngsters learn to ski through the Eastern Slope Ski Club's Junior Ski Program, some of whom went on to become Olympians. He was active with the Professional Ski Instructors of America, and authored a ski instruction book in 1967.
Herbert and partners sold the area in 1984 but Herbert remained on board as the area's skimeister and ski ambassador. He was elected to the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1992.
Efforts are under way to create a memorial to Herbert at Cranmore.
Based in Franconia, the New England Ski Museum has annex exhibits at Cranmore, Bretton Woods, the state of New Hampshire's Intervale Rest Area, and in the lobby of the Eastern Slope Inn. For more information, call 823-7177.
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FIREWORKS FIRE: Ben Wilcox, general manager and president of Cranmore Mountain Resort, and North Conway fire chief Pat Preece confirmed that a small fire destroyed a lift shack at Cranmore Saturday evening following a Cranapalaooza fireworks display.
The fire is believed to have been caused by the placement of smoldering fireworks shells into a cardboard box that was stored next to the lift shack at the bottom of the Lucky Loop Handle Tow Lift, according to Wilcox and Preece.
Wilcox released the following statement:
“A fire destroyed a small shed-style building at Cranmore Mountain Resort at approximately 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3. The building was located at the bottom of Cranmore’s Lucky Loop Handle Tow Lift, near the bottom of the Beginner’s Luck Trail. The fire started from some firework debris left over from a show that took place at 6:30 p.m. on the same evening. There were no injuries and no structural damage to the handle tow lift. The lift services a small terrain park and it was only scheduled to operate for four more days this
"The terrain park is still open and can be accessed by other lifts at the mountain.
"The North Conway Fire Department efficiently extinguished the small building. Cranmore did not experience any operational interruptions based on this event.”