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A Treasure Unburied: Recovered Skis Will Benefit Storrs Hill

  • Robert Morse and his daughter Izzy pick old skis from a pile at his home in West Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 24, 2017. Morse has started making chairs for the Storrs Hill Ski Area out of the skis. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hundreds of down hill skis sit in Robert Morse's back yard in West Lebanon. N.H., on Dec. 24, 2017. The old skis were taken from a home in Lebanon that was about to be demolished. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Robert Morse cuts an old down hill ski on a chop saw at his home in West Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 24, 2017. Morse has stared making chairs out of the old skis. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, December 25, 2017

Lebanon — For many years, a home ski shop run by the late Jesse Truman in Lebanon’s Hillcrest Acres neighborhood outfitted children with proper skiing equipment and attire. Now the Lebanon Outing Club is making sure the leftover skis will still be put to use.

LOC vice president Robert Morse recently retrieved hundreds of pairs of outdated Rossignols, Fischers and Elans from the abandoned house and shop, which is slated to be demolished. Morse and his daughter, Kelsey, filled his pickup seven times to transport the skis to their West Lebanon home, where Rob Morse plans to repurpose them as components of custom-built chairs, coat racks and other novelty items.

Some of the creations will be used as amenities to spruce up the lodge at Storrs Hill Ski Area, which LOC runs for the city. Other items may be auctioned for funds to benefit the nonprofit, which is celebrating its 95th year and this summer purchased and installed stainless steel tracks for its 50- and 25-meter ski jumps.

“(LOC board member) Cheryl Tourville had seen (a New Hampshire Public Radio) story about the skis at Truman’s shop and thought, ‘There’s a lot we could do with these.’ ” said Morse, who already has built one Adirondack-style chair made partially from old skis obtained at the Listen Center. “I wanted to jump on the opportunity.”

Tourville said there are many possibilities for repurposing the skis.

“My friend and I went on (the images website) Pinterest, and people are making all kinds of things out of old skis: chairs, benches, tables, shelves,” Tourville said. “As a nonprofit, we’re pretty thrifty, so I think we’ll find a lot of ways to use them.”

That was welcome news for property owner Rory Gawler, who previously had offered the skis to existing ski shops and placed ads for them, with no takers. While they may be a source of nostalgia for those who learned to ski in the 1970s era, their straightened design is out of date. Sidecut skis — which feature a parabolic shape that makes it easier to turn — were first introduced in the mid-1990s.

“I have friends in the industry who want nothing to do with (the old skis and boots). They’re aged and could be a liability,” said Gawler, Dartmouth Outing Club’s assistant director of outdoor programs. “When I found out Lebanon Outing Club could find a use for them, I said, ‘That’s perfect.’ Storrs Hill and LOC are great resources.”

Repurposing the skis also preserves a piece of of the city’s skiing history — and charity.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Truman’s bustling ski shop sold, sharpened and smoothed skis for visitors from around the region. Its proprietor was especially generous to children, sending them away with suitable equipment sometimes at his own cost.

Erling Heistad, whose father, also named Erling, founded LOC in 1923, said Truman’s was the friendliest ski shop in the area.

“Jesse Truman got a lot of kids out skiing, because he thought it was very important for them to have that outlet,” said Heistad, 78. “It didn’t matter if you couldn’t afford top-of-the-line skis. He’d make sure you got out of there with something you could use. That helped out a lot of families. People from throughout the whole Upper Valley would go see him.”

That included current LOC board member Jen Kerl, of White River Junction.

“It was really a neat little place. In the ’60s and ’70s, you could go over there with a car full of kids, and he’d get you all geared up, one after the other, and it wasn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg,” Kerl recalled. “It was the best place for kids.”

Heistad noted that his father’s vision was that every child in Lebanon Center (now known as downtown) would have access to a ski jump within walking distance. He applauds the current LOC staff’s commitment to preserving that heritage by investing in the ski jumping facilities at Storrs Hill.

The steel tracks put in place this year, valued at $13,000 before installation, allows for ski jumping programs and activities even with limited or no snow cover. Eventually, LOC hopes it will become a year-round training destination.

“If you went to Storrs Hill on a weekend in the ’50s, there might be 21 skiers and coaches there training,” Heistad said.  “The LOC has a vision to build it into a significant training center again, and I think that’s great for the community.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.