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Skiing, skimming and sopping-wet boots at Storrs Hill season sendoff

  • Caleb Henderson, of White River Junction, carves a turn through the pond skimming pool at Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon, N.H., during its annual End of Season Party, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Henderson is a volunteer at the ski hill. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Cassidy Harrod , of Newbury, Vt., walks up to the lift at Storrs Hill Ski Area for her first run of the day during the End of Season Party in Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon Outing Club board member Stephanie Vallee slows the lift as volunteer Patrick (P.J.) Swain helps Gideon Hudson, 7, grab the bar during the End of Season Party at Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. "The beauty of this place is the kids just feel total freedom," said Hudson's dad Jim, foreground left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Friends, from left, David Rosengarten, Lucas Verrastro, Nick Memmer, and Mitch Codd, hike up Storrs Hill to the starting area for pond skimming during the End of Season Party in Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Zayne Smith, 16, of Lebanon, dumps the water out of his boots after four soggy pond skimming runs at Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, March 30, 2019

LEBANON — Mary Poppins, an owl and a man in a business suit. None of them got rained on at Storrs Hill’s end-of-season party on Saturday, but most of them got soaked.

About two dozen skiers and riders dashed down the hill and attempted to cross a 30-foot man-made pond in the annual pond skimming event. Some succeeded, some failed, but everyone laughed.

“That’s colder than it looks!” yelled Lebanon resident Jason Vallee, 45, as he sank into the 3-foot-deep pond after losing much of his speed.

He crawled to the edge and hopped out to make way for Cassidy Harrod, 20, of Newbury, Vt.

Harrod, who grew up in Lebanon and learned to ski at Storrs Hill, had hoped her owl costume would give her wings. It didn’t.

“I’m good, I’m good,” she exclaimed as she popped up gasping for air after going underwater. “Thankfully, I like the cold.”

Although many needed a change of clothes, not everyone did, including Eli Ferro, 14, of Tunbridge, who wore a wetsuit.

“It’s so cold you can’t feel how cold it is,” he shouted to his friends.

For more than an hour, Lebanon Outing Club President Cory Grant called out the names of the entrants — most of whom he knew by both first and last name.

That’s the thing at Storrs Hill — mostly everyone who skis and rides there knows one another. And chances are they also volunteer.

​​​​​Erling Heistad, the man who started Storrs Hill 96 years ago, would be happy to know his vision is alive and well today.

In 1923, Heistad started the club with the idea that “every child in Lebanon should be within walking distance of a ski jump so they would have an outdoor activity in the snow.”

The hill has afforded thousands of children just that and so much more, said Stephanie Vallee, a board member at the Lebanon Outing Club, which runs Storrs Hill.

Generations of families and volunteers donate hours of time to keep the “small-town ski hill” in operation, she said.

“It’s just a little gem,” Vallee said.

People of all ages agree.

“I love this place,” 9-year-old Averon Langley said. “I like how nice the people are here.”

Langley said he hopes to be a ski patroller at Storrs Hill one day.

He and others his age got a flavor of their dreams last month when the board members stepped back and let the boys and girls – many of whom are their children — run the show on “Junior Board Day.”

“It’s so nice seeing all the kids wanting to give back,” said Grant, the Outing Club president.

While other mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire are being bought by large corporations and ticket prices keep rising, Storrs Hill prides itself on remaining affordable while still providing similar offerings. Not only does it have ski jumps, but it has four trails, a lift and a terrain park.

A family can purchase a season pass at Storrs Hill for $250, which is about what it costs to take a family of four to a large mountain in Vermont or New Hampshire for the day.

The end-of-the-season party was complete with skiing and riding on the hill, tubing, live music and a barbecue.

Storrs Hill wasn’t the only area mountain to hold skiing and riding events on Saturday. Mount Sunapee in Newbury, N.H., also held its annual pond skim.

Although it may not have kept people off the slopes, a potentially rainy forecast held off for the weekend events.

Tyler Debuck-Earl, 20, of White River Junction, who was soaked from the thighs down, sailed across the pond skim at Storrs several times.

Debuck-Earl, wearing an American flag-printed cowboy hat and a cutoff T-shirt, said he was thankful to stumble upon such an “amazing” organization.

He and a friend stopped by and tried snowboarding for the first time earlier this season. Now, every day after work, he takes to the hill, both to ride and to volunteer.

“It’s a good place to start,” he said. “We have a good president, good people and good volunteers. It’s a safe and fun place to go.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.