3-25-20 Cranmore ski

Alex Leich of North Conway and Boston College student is followed by his girlfriend Sarah Osmulski of Brookline, Mass., skiing down the Competition Slope on Cranmore Mountain Wednesday. The two used “skins” fixed to the bottoms of their skins to climb to the summit for a few runs. Meanwhile, Cranmore Mountain Meisters has posted the results of its truncated season. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — The 2020 Cranmore Mountain Meisters season ended March 11, one week earlier than planned, due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and warnings from the state about social gatherings of more than 10 people.

However, Meisters coordinator Kevin Hamlin and results compiler Sean Doucette remained upbeat about the success of this year’s shortened 49th season.

“I think it was a great season,” said Hamlin this week.

“Of course, everyone is sad that we didn't get to hold the last week and the awards party —that last week is our annual Jen’s Friends benefit race — but we are thinking that we may be able to have a get-together at Zip’s once this has passed and give out the awards, and we could also have a donation bucket for Jen’s Friends," he said.

"We’re talking about that all now, so we ask everyone to stay tuned.”

Hamlin said the series was very successful in terms of charitable fundraising  with its “pay-to-play” run option, benefiting such causes as the Josh Preece Fund for the local injured mountain biker, Starting Point Services for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Conway Area Humane Society and others.

The weekly Wednesday ski race series is said to to be the oldest continuously operating weekly citizens race series in the country. It dates back to 1972, when it started as the Local Yokel Series before switching over to Mountain Meisters in the early 1980s.

This season, it enjoyed fantastic weather, with eight of the nine weeks boasting sunny bluebird skies. The only exception was a day that started out as rainy but cleared to windy conditions in the afternoon.

Participation was on par with the previous season, holding steady at about 25 teams — compared with 24 teams in 2018 — and approximately 330 total racers, with between 250 to 300 every week, according to Hamlin.

That’s down from the 850-900 racers who used to participate in the 1990s when there were more young people in the Mount Washington Valley who were able to perhaps more easily break away from their service jobs.

But Hamlin remains upbeat about the prospects for the series as it heads into its 50th season next year.

“I think once we get past this (coronavirus), everyone is looking forward to a big 50th next year, and hopefully with another year of great weather,” said Hamlin, sending out a shout-out to all racers and residents, saying, “I hope everyone is healthy and staying safe and not going too stir crazy!”

For more, go to cranmore.com.

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