CONWAY — Sunny skies and temps in the mid-30s are in the forecast for Sunday, St. Paddy’s Day — which will be of comfort to skiers and riders, and to lovers of green beer everywhere, no doubt!

Alas, showers were forecast to fall on Friday, for the 46th annual Red Parka Pub Challenge Race, the oldest and longest running citizen’s dual slalom race in the country.

We’d like to salute race chair Terry O’Brien for her years as race chair and her commitment to helping the Eastern Slope Ski Club’s Junior Ski Program, which is the beneficiary of the race.

Terry and Stefan Karnopp of the ESSC appeared on WMWV this past week, with Stefan noting that the race now serves as the No. 1 fundraiser for the club, now surpassing the annual used equipment ski sale.

Changes have been made in the fundraising and registration in recent years, which last year helped “bump” the race proceeds to $15,000.

The Parka’s annual Skiers Appreciation Party in early December also always benefits the ESSC.

All one big valley is the way Terry, her mom Jeanne and her late dad Dewey Mark always saw things, and their big hearts have helped the ESSC achieve its mission of making sure every kid in this valley gets the opportunity to learn to ski at an affordable cost. Kudos to all who make it happen, year in and year out.

SPEAKING OF THE ESSC, the annual meeting of the club will take place March 21 at 5:30 p.m. at (guess where?) the caboose at the Red Parka Steakhouse and Pub. All ESSC members are invited to attend.

SKIERS PAID TRIBUTE to legendary Cranmore Snowsports Hall of Fame instructor John McDonald at Cranmore under partly cloudy skies Thursday.

The ski run was held following the Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church celebrated for John that morning.

Due to a terrible cold that has hit many of us here in the valley, I unfortunately was not able to attend either event, despite my best intentions to do so.

“I’d say that there were as many people taking the ski run as were at the funeral,” Dr. Jim Frenette reported to me when we spoke on the phone Thursday. “People gathered at the summit and then skied down the Middle Trail to the North Slope to Zip’s.”

Phil Haynes, we're told, skied a solo run down the Arlberg Trail, as that was John's favorite.

John was a 2011 inductee into the Cranmore Snowsports Hall of Fame — the first year of the hall of fame, along with fellow inductees Hannes Schneider, Herbert Schneider, Edi Mall and Danny Grant Sr.

A class act, through and through. Ski in peace, John!

CRANMORE HOSTED the latest induction of patrollers into the Snowsports Hall of Fame last Friday night.

Congrats to the inductees: Dr. Jim Frenette, who was introduced by former Mountain Operations Manager Kevin Donovan; the olorful Fred Jones, who was introduced by Dana Cosby; the late Bob “Dogger” Haynes, who was introduced by Dougie MacDonald, with son Bobby Haynes accepting and speaking on behalf of his late dad, who with late wife/former Cranmore Snowsports School director and Snowsports Hall of Fame inductee/Norma Ashnault Haynes Wassall were integral parts of the Cranmore family.

I was not there, as some of us were helping buddy Rob Burbank of WMWV celebrate his 60th birthday at Deacon Street that same night. Hard to be in two (or three) places at once, but I do try!

FOR THE SKIER WHO HAS EVERYTHING DEPARTMENT: A few weeks ago, for Schneider Cup Weekend, the New England Ski Museum hosted a tour of the new Eastern Slope Branch for a group of us Snowsports Journalists of America members.

While there, volunteer Susan Fox gave this ski writer a gift I shall always treasure — a decorated ski pole plunger, complete with a ribbon!

“I hate to tell you, Tom,” said Eastern Slope Branch manager Brian Fowler, “but those ski pole plungers are now out-selling item in the museum’s gift shop — more than any of our books, including yours on Cranmore ski history!”

Wow — now that was a blow to my ego!

The story got more interesting at that point, as I learned that the ski pole plungers were created by ardent ski history supporter Stefi Reed Hastings (daughter of the late Carroll and Kay Reed) with the help of husband Peter and others.

The poles are donated by Stan and Dan’s, and are cut into two different sizes. Stefi obtained the rubber stops/plunger bottoms from Trumbull’s Hardware in Fryeburg, Maine.

I can just hear her ordering the first 25 rubber components — but without the plunger poles.

Sort of like the story about the late Bill Whitney ordering 72 shovel handles (but not the shovels) from Sears Roebuck Co. for what became the Shovel Handle Lift at Whitneys’ in Jackson back in 1937. Plus, it makes sense, given that Stefi's dad was in both the ski and hardware store business. at Carroll Reed's and Carroll County Hardware Co.

“We sell them for $25 for the 3-foot lengths and $20 for the foot and a half ones. We can’t keep them in stock!” laughed Brian.

I think it’s the decorative bow that makes each pole such a hot seller. For more information, call the branch at (603) 730-5044. Go ahead — take the plunge(r)!

THERE WERE A LOT OF HOT items (but not plungers) at Tin Mountain Conservation Center’s 25th annual First Season Festival Dinner Auction, held at Fryeburg Academy’s Gibson Gym and catered by Hart’s Turkey Farm last Saturday evening.

An autographed Red Sox ball, two-hour fishing tours of Silver Lake by the Fish Nerds, maple syrup, a Moroccan meal for six with music and slides, a five-hour river kayak tour of the Maine coast, a two-night stay on Star Island on the Isle of Shoals and a puffin trip with Raven Wildlife were among the specialty items.

TOPPING THE AGENDA this weekend is the 10th annual Shawn Smith Ski for Youth Fundraiser at Matty B’s and Attitash, which this year, organizer Ellen Guilford tells us, is to benefit the Camden Strong effort for courageous young cancer battler Camden Bailey of Jackson.

On Saturday, Matty B’s will host the silent auction along with a 50/50 raffle. Live music will be performed.

On Sunday, the family ski race will be held, supported by the Attitash Ski School.

There will be live music on Sunday afternoon at Ptarmigan’s Pub at Attitash.

“Our annual golf ball throw for a pair of ski and much more will be held,” says Ellen, the late Shawn Smith’s mom, who with Shawn’s dad Larry Smith have been putting on the race with tons of community support for a decade since Shawn’s passing in a motorcycle accident at age age of 34 in July 2008. He loved skiing and youth sports, and the foundation assists kids in their athletic pursuits.

For more information, call Attitash at (603) 374-2368, Matty B’s at (603) 374-0990 or Ellen at (207) 754-3143 or

IN HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREETINGS, we salute one and all, including musician Al “the Rev” Shafner and Conor Toumarkine and Doug MacDonald (today); Chris McAlleer, Mary Vigeant and back in the valley Lisa Marino Surette (3-17); Big Bro Jon Eastman, Skip Bartlett and Dave Jensen of Lupine (3-18); Cormac McCarthy, Ken Turner of Burnaby’s fame, Julie McAlpine Butler and Leann Brown Muzzerall (3-19); Andrea LaRusso, Keith Force, Heidi Hartwell (3-21); and Chris Carlson, community guy Rob Clark, Kim Livingston and Rick Davidson (3-22).



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