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IMHO: Tourville is LOC’s spark plug

  • Cheryl Tourville, of Canaan, was recently named USA Nordic Skiing's club leader of the year for her work as vice president of the Lebanon Outing Club, the organization that runs Storrs Hill ski area. Tourville, who is undertaking a fundraising effort to create a year-round ski jump training center at the hill, was photographed at Storrs Hill in Lebanon, N.H., August 21, 2019. "I think my favorite part is coming here after work, feeling that light snow and seeing the hill packed with kids," she said of her involvement with the club. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • From left: Matthew Tourville, 8, of Canaan, N.H., Kyle Grant, 8, of Lebanon, N.H., Timothy Tourville, 6, of Canaan, and Karlee Grant, 4, of Lebanon hike up a slope on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, at Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon, N.H. The kids were able to ski the area before anyone else while their parents helped prepare for a members-only night on Saturday. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Editor
Saturday, August 24, 2019

Jed Hinkley has worked with Lebanon Outing Club vice president Cheryl Tourville for a few years, long enough to retain a question in the back of his mind.

Tourville, the bundle of energy behind much of what makes the LOC go, received USA Nordic Sport’s Club Leader of the Year award late last month. If there’s something to be organized, a grant to be written, a hand to be lent, Tourville’s usually there. She and Hinkley, USA Nordic’s sports development director, communicate frequently; Tourville serves on the organization’s membership committee.

But Hinkley has also spotted something, well, hinky about Tourville over that time.

“I did notice that in all of the pictures of her,” Hinkley said last week, “she’s not skiing when her boys and husband are.”

First and foremost, Tourville is wife to Edmund and mother to Matthew, 10, and Timothy, 8. They’re the reason she’s become such an integral part of the LOC, something into which she quickly grew once the family got involved three years ago.

As for the skiing thing …

“I get a lot of pressure for that,” a smiling Tourville confessed during a Tuesday chat at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she’s the senior clinical secretary for the division of trauma and acute care surgery. “I’m really busy trying to make sure we can provide opportunity for all of our kids in the area, and our families. … I have taken two private lessons in the past. I just get a little nervous.”

USA Nordic decided two years ago to start an awards program, Hinkley said in a phone interview last week. Coaching and competing accolades were natural ideas, but the organization also wanted to recognize the people who work behind the scenes to keep ski jumping and Nordic combined, the national body’s two priorities, growing and in the public eye.

Consideration requires a nomination. Hinkley wouldn’t reveal the source, and LOC president Cory Grant offered nothing when queried last week. But both clearly respect Tourville’s willingness to grow the club, its programs and its relationships with the Upper Valley community.

“With my focus of the whole club as president, it’s hard to run all aspects by myself,” LOC president Cory Grant said. “I put Cheryl in to work with Stephanie (Vallee, LOC’s secretary  and jumping liaison), and she did all of the meets for the kids for LOC and moved her way into being the ‘jumping mom,’ doing stuff for the outing club.

“With that, she built relationships and stuff throughout USA Nordic. I’m not a bit surprised of the accomplishments she’s done and the award she’s been given. She’s very well-driven and well-directed as to what she wants to accomplish.”

A lifelong Canaan resident, Tourville met her husband when they were kindergartners, and they remained close all the way through Mascoma High School. Edmund jumped for the LOC; Cheryl watched, even as Edmund broke his leg in eighth grade while qualifying for junior nationals. With no other competitive avenues to pursue after graduation and with their life together evolving, Edmund stopped jumping. Time to hit a slope or ramp became scarcer as he and Cheryl got married and started their family.

Family ultimately brought them back.

“Edmund wanted to go back to LOC because that’s where he grew up jumping, skiing and lessons,” Cheryl said. “His mom was on the board of directors, and she was a ski patroller; she helped with lessons. His father also didn’t ski, but his father put in a lot of time volunteering there, too, so there’s a family connection.

“His dad died six years ago coming up in two weeks, and so LOC brought a piece back to him that was missing since his father’s death. It’s brought a piece of happiness back.”

It’s also served as therapy for the Tourvilles’ youngest son. Becoming a ski jumper has helped Timothy counteract the effects of anxiety.

“As a mom, I need to be present when my kids are having their lessons and whatnot,” Tourville said. “My husband is very active in it (as a jumping coach). And the energy I was feeling from it … I thought I might as well do something with my time and help in what way I can to not only give a place for my kids to grow and enjoy, but give back what my husband had and welcome other families to explore.”

Tourville’s work has helped Grant, who became LOC president five years ago, bring some of his vision for the club and Lebanon’s Storrs Hill Ski Area to reality. During Grant’s tenure, the club has revitalized Storrs Hill’s snowmaking system, lift and grooming equipment. It has expanded lesson offerings. Four high school ski teams — Lebanon, Hanover, Thetford Academy and Kimball Union Academy — now call the hill their training home. Plans for the coming year include establishing a terrain park for freestyle skiing and continuing an operational schedule that is now seven days a week, double what it used to be.

LOC volunteers have done “a lot of maintenance” trying to be proactive rather than reactive, Grant said. Tourville has been part of that, too.

“I went in the river in the middle of November when the inlet pipe plugged up,” she said. “It was a cold swim, but I can say I did it.”

There are bigger projects ahead.

Some of Tourville’s grant-writing work is aimed at securing funds to make Storrs Hill a year-round jumping facility. The first success came two years ago, when the LOC installed steel runners on its 50- and 25-meter ramps, making them operational during times of poor snow cover.

Grant would ultimately like to install artificial grass landing areas below the two jumps to permit offseason training. Doing so would give northern New England one of the few full-year ski jumping complexes in the country. It will also take at least $100,000 to complete, Tourville said.

“We are trying to raise funds to continue moving the hill forward with our racing and our jumping programs as well as our routine maintenance,” she added. “This spring, we had so much rain that we actually lost part of our 25(-meter hill) landing, so that’s being repaired now.”

She’ll be the public-address announcer at Storrs Hill jump meets. She’ll staff the lodge’s kitchen. She’ll babysit the kids of LOC’s snowmaking crew during their late-night work. She’ll write grants and raise money. She’ll ride her snowmobile to help the ski patrol. She’ll email meet results. Tourville is USA Nordic’s top club leader for everything she does for the Lebanon Outing Club and everything she’ll continue to do.

“I do it for my husband and the kids,” she said, “as well as the other kids that I’ve met who are coming there to learn.”

Just cut her some slack on the learning-to-ski thing, OK?

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.