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Black Mountain expands race program
RUMFORD -- Black Mountain of Maine is excited to announce that it will be expanding its junior alpine race program for the next ski season.
Mark Thibodeau has been hired as the alpine program director. Thibodeau was the race program director at Mt. Abram Ski Resort for the past nine years and was the Leavitt High School coach for 12 years. His team won four state championships, and he was named Maine Coach of the Year in 2002.
He is a USSA level I coach and USSA official. During the past three seasons several of his high school athletes won state championship titles. Two seasons ago, he introduced a unique and very successful five-event high school race series that typically drew 150 competitors on a Friday night.
Thibodeau will bring with him former National Team Coach Tim LaVallee and three-time Olympian Julie Parisien.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity for Black Mountain, our youth programs, and all the families that ski at Black Mountain,” according to Roger Arsenault, chairman of the Black Mountain Board of Directors. “The best possible coaching team coupled with 100 percent support of the mountain staff and the operating board will make for an unbelievable experience for skiers who want to take their ability to the next level.”
Julie Parisien got her skiing start at Lost Valley at the age of two and soon was racing her brothers and sister down those slopes. At an early age she began putting posters of world class skiers on the walls of her room and saying to herself, "I can do that."
Through grade school, Julie skied after school at Lost Valley and weekends with the family at Sugarloaf. As a high school freshman she moved to Burke Mountain Academy to seriously pursue her goal of becoming a world class ski racer and it didn't take long.
In her second year at Burke, March of 1989, Julie finished fourth in Super G at the National Alpine Championships. The next season saw wins in NorAms, Junior Olympics, a gold medal in Combined at the U.S. Nationals and a Bronze Medal at the World Junior Alpine Championships. During the 1990-91 season, Parisien piled up more wins, 11 in all in FIS, NorAm, and Europa Cup.
The big breakthrough came in the World Cup finals at Waterville Valley when, at the age of 19, she won the Giant Slalom, the first US World Cup win in four years.
Her success at every level of alpine competition earned Julie a place on the 1992 Olympic team and entered the games as a U.S. favorite to win a medal. As she was training for the races, a skier entered a training area and Julie lost several teeth in a collision. That was followed by a broken wrist in later training but she still competed.
After the first run, she led the slalom, but skied tentatively in the second run and finished fourth. She finished fifth in GS, great results considering her injuries but a disappointment for such a competitor. She finished the season by winning the World Cup final slalom earning her the number one ranking in the World to start the 1993 season.
Julie opened the 1993-94 season by winning a World Cup Slalom but shortly after her brother J. P. was killed by a drunk driver and she suffered a knee injury a few weeks later. Despite the tragic loss and the injury she stayed with it and won a silver medal at the World Championships and her second National Combined title.
After that season, Parisien left the U.S. Team to dominate the US Pro Ski Tour for the next three years. At the beginning of the 1997-98 season, she decided to try a comeback and worked her way onto the U.S. Team for the '98 Olympics where she finished 13th in GS.
Following her final retirement from the U.S. Team, this skier, who held up a long tradition of outstanding skiers from Auburn and Maine finished school and nurses training, began a family and found ways to give back to her sport. She coached junior racers at Lost Valley and traveled the state motivating young school children to get involved in skiing and other outdoor winter sports for the Winter Kids program. An outstanding competitive career and a devotion to the sport have earned Julie
Parisien a place in the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.
LaVallee worked for Thibodeau for the past three years at Mt Abram. Coach LaVallee is a former four-year standout and two-year captain of the Plymouth State University ski team and has enjoyed a distinguished coaching career in ski racing. He has been successful at the high school level in Bethel and at Oxford Hills High School; the college level at the University of Colorado and Bates College; the prep school level at Gould Academy; and the national level with the United States Ski Team from 1983-87.
A native of Winthrop, LaVallee led Telstar to four Maine state championships and one New England title in the 1970s, and Oxford Hills to the state title in 1979. He served the U.S. Ski Team in Park City, Utah in the 1980s as development coach, Alpine Team technical director, and executive director of the U.S. Ski Coaches Association. He coached at the University of Colorado, where his teams compiled a 113-24-1 record while producing some of the country's top skiers.
LaVallee returned to Maine in 1990 as head ski coach at Bates College. In 1994, he joined in a partnership between Gould Academy and Sunday River to create a comprehensive ski program that has succeeded at all levels, winning six New England Prep School Championships from 1998-2007 and sending several skiers to the U.S. Ski Team. He is a member of the Plymouth State University Athletic Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in 2008.
“A more perfect program could not have been pulled together that will bring high level coaching, sportsmanship, work ethics, and affordable program fees to Black Mountain. This program has all of the elements of making an already successful program even greater” said Arsenault.
“This has been a dream for Black Mountain for as long as I can remember. Program quality combined with affordability can achieve only success and give non academy athletes the very best opportunity,” he noted.
LaVallee and Parisien will bring with them to Black Mountain a unique program geared for junior skiers ages eight through high school.
“It’s a program which emphasizes skiing as a life long sport, character development, sportsmanship, work ethic, and a competitive approach to racing and training” according to LaVallee.
Parisien adds, “Our intent is develop their love of skiing into a passion for ski racing and, in so doing, take them from learning basic skills to high performance skiing.”
According to Thibodeau, the program will “focus on promoting high school and middle school ski racing and help those athletes reach their full potential and grow in alpine racing. The Chisholm Ski Club Alpine Race Program will supplement and support the athlete’s home program and high school/middle school coaches, and training needs.”
In addition to providing world class coaching, the 2011-12 alpine race program will consist of a 40-day training program that includes training over Christmas break and February vacation, a low racer to coach ratio, extensive video analysis, and a logical progression of skill development through a blending of free skiing, directed free ski drills, gate drills, and full-length courses.
Fees for the Chisholm Ski Club Alpine Race Program are made affordable to encourage athlete participation and family involvement. Prior to the program beginning, there will be a social that will give athletes and parents the opportunity to meet the coaches, further describe the program, the program philosophy, and answer questions.
On July 22, the Chisholm Ski Club Alpine Race Program hosted a race season preparation physical testing day. Elevin alpine ski racers, including Mtn. Valley High School senior Nathan Nicols, went through a series of stations in which their strength and speed were timed and recorded to get a baseline of their physical conditioning. Here, program directors Julie Parisien and Mark Thibodeau go over the results with Nicols (center). At the end of the testing, each participant received a fitness program to follow throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall. In October, they will get back together to retest, then again in December. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)