New England Kandahar


The New England Kandahar was finally instituted in 1955, after some years of consideration and planning. All concerned wanted assurance that this race would be of a calibre appropriate to a "Kandahar" and that provision would be made for its continuance.  This having been established, the first race was held on 25th March, 1956, at Mad River Glen, in Northern Vermont.

The course, a giant slalom, dropped 1,700 feet in a bit over a mile. New England trails, where they are narrow, already simulate a giant slalom, and on this route there were added 40 gates on the wider sections, creating an absolutely first-class course.  There were 105 starters, plus 22 girls. 

Subsequent races were held at the same area, except the 1958 running, which was at Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire. The 1957, 1964 and 1965 events were cancelled, because of unfavourable snow conditions. The race is traditionally a late-season one, and exposed to this risk.

In all years since the start, the race has been held in a very satisfactory way, with respect to participation, course conditions, organisation and atmosphere, except in one year. On this occasion, two college coaches withdrew their teams because they thought conditions were dangerous. However, upon an hour's postponement, the snow surface had softened to the extent that the course was perhaps a little on the slow side, with very few falls, even among the veterans. In late season races here, this problem for course-setters is always present. The snow surfaces freeze hard during the cold nights, and they may or may not soften during the next day, depending largely on the amount of sun.

In response to a demand from a number of older competitors, a Veterans' Event was instituted in 1958. These are racers over 32 years of age, and many of them are still capable of excellent performances. 

The NEK is a giant slalom only, and is always held on a Sunday.  Being strictly confined to amateurs, this makes it unnecessary for entrants to be on hand one or two more week days in order to practice a downhill course.

The entries have usually included a number of Canadians, mostly from the Canadian universities. There have been few British, although in 1960 Geoffrey Pitchford, after competing at Squaw Valley in the British team, ran. For U.S. competitors, an Elite A, A, or B classification is necessary. 

We are grateful to Sir Arnold Lunn for helping us to institute this fine race. The men's trophy, a large silver bowl, was donated by the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Kandahar Ski Club. Individual prizes of gold, silver and bronze "Arrows" are awarded. These are similar to the "Flechas" given at the Kandahar of the Andes.

The New England Kandahar Committee consists of the Presidents of the U.S. Eastern Amateur Ski Association, the Amateur Ski Club of New York, and the Hartford Ski Club, plus two elected members.
Edwin D, Eaton, a former U.S. Ski Association president and F.I.S. vice-president, is now chairman.


N.E. Kandahar, 1967

An arrangement whereby the New England Kandahar is henceforth to be held alternately at Mad River Glen and at Stratton Mountain was off to an auspicious start on Sunday, 26th February, when the event was successfully run at the big southern Vermont resort for the first time. A large field competed—117 in the main event, 28 in the women's category and 41 veterans. It was the ninth running of the race since it was inaugurated 12 years ago. 

Eric Sunde, Dartmouth sophomore from Oslo, Norway, took the top honour with a time of 1 min. 21.69 secs., less than dueequarters of a second better than Hans Maerki, of Davos, Switzerland, the runner-up.  Two days before, Suade had been second in the giant slalom of the Middlebury College Carnival, in which all the leading colleges of the eastern U.S. took part.

The 48-gate giant slalom course was set by Hias Leitner and Ernst Hinterseer, professional racers on the Stratton Ski School staff.  Although on a trail of moderate grade, the setting served well to test
the skill of the runners, particularly in maintaining their speed in the gates. The latter were generously wide, but rather closely spaced throughout, leaving little option as to hne—but then a giant slalom seldom does. The vertical descent was estimated at about 1,000 feet. 

The women and the veterans ran the same course, and had the advantage of running first. First in the women*s event was Lynn Bertram, of the University of Vermont, with 1 min. 31.78 secs.

The veterans' section, always fiercely contested, was more popular than ever, having 43 starters. This was, in part, due to the fact that, contrary to past custom, entrants under 40 years of age were
admitted. Of this group, durable Bill Orcott, of Waterville, ran in impressive style, completing the course in 1 min. 29.55 secs.

A large part of the entries came from the leading ski colleges of the East, whose teams had been competing in the Middlebury College Carnival during the preceding two days. Altogether, 17 colleges were represented among the racers, Middlebury, Dartmouth and U.V.M. having the largest contingents.

The event was conducted with admirable efficiency. The start was on time, with gate watchers posted. Timing was electrical with watches to back up. Times at the finish were posted, in order, with promptness, and the complete finish lists ready at the base in remarkably quick order.

Competitors starting after the first quarter of the main event had to cope with deteriorating conditions in the gates. A week before, ski-ing surfaces, as elsewhere in New England, including Mad River
Glen, had been of ceramic hardness. During the week, three snowfalls covered the trails, but due to the exceptionally cold weather, this snow did not compact well, despite all efforts. This brought it about that, although the trails were in superb condition for recreational ski-ing, scores of hard turns in the-same place soon created rather deep and difficult ruts.

The race organisation was greatly helped by the experienced and generous help of over 30 members of the Hartford Ski Club, which, with the Amateur Ski Club of New York, is the sponsor of the fixture.  Edwin Eaton, Chairman of the New England Kandahar Committee, acted as Chief of the Race.

The Amateur Ski Club of New York was represented by Hutchinson Dubosque, the Club's president, Wesley Dunn, Chairman of its Race Committee, and Roland Palmedo, Honorary President of the Club. The prizes were awarded by Edwin Eaton in his usual eloquent manner.

The course at Stratton was somewhat shorter than the courses which have been used at Mad River Glen. The winner's time this year was 81.69 secs., compared to Roger Buchika's time last year of  130.10 secs. This refiected the difference in descent, about 1,400 feet vs. 1,000 and 60 gates vs. 48. However, the competitors expressed themselves as very pleased with the course, which they praised as not only a good test, but also as an enjoyable one...  "I never had more fun in a race," said one finisher to your correspondent, in the true Kandahar spirit.


From the Kandahar Review of 1967

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