Cannon Mountain is Olympian Bode Miller’s home mountain. It’s also home to the New England Ski Museum and some of my favorite ski trails.
On February 7, the world will watch as the Opening Ceremony marks the start of the XXII Olympic Games. According to ESPNBoston.com, there are more than 50 athletes with ties to New England. A few of them have ties to Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire.
If you know anything about ski racing, you know about Bode Miller. This will be the 36-year-old Miller’s fifth Winter Games. His colorful career has had some highs and lows, but based on the two cases filled with his medals from the Olympics and World Cup events at the New England Ski Museum, located at the base of Cannon’s tram, he’s a champion. In fact, Cannon’s tagline, “the living legend” surely has something to do with Bode.
In addition to Miller, there are more Cannon athletes competing in Sochi this year.
“This year there are actually TWO Olympians with direct ties to Cannon: Bode and Julia Ford, who skied for Franconia Ski Club and Holderness before making the U.S. Ski Team a few years back. WMUR did a segment on her last week when she was back at Cannon training for a few days before heading to Sochi,” says ski writer and Cannon local Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. “Her mom, Lori, still coaches for FSC/Holderness. Also two Paralympians: Tyler Walker, who grew up in Franconia and skiing at Cannon, and Chris Devlin-Young, Tyler’s mentor and longtime teammate, who has called many a mountain ‘home,’ but who is now the ‘ambassador’ for the Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country whose ski operations are at Cannon.”
This mountain certainly grows athletes, but that’s not all it has contributed to the sport of skiing. “The living legend” has a long and proud history, all of it so richly documented in Meghan McCarthy McPhaul’s A History of Cannon Mountain: Trails, Tales and Skiing Legends (The History Press, 2011).
Last Saturday at Cannon, I got to experience it all–the trails, tales and skiing legends.
There’s plenty of terrain to please any level of skier or rider at Cannon. Beginners can practice the basics on Brookside in the Tuckerbrook Family Area. Blues lovers can access intermediate runs all over the mountain. But don’t be lulled: Cannon is demanding. It boasts the biggest vertical drop in New Hampshire: 2,180 feet. If you’re stuck in an intermediate rut, Cannon will inspire you to improve your skills so that you can explore every inch of it, taking in jaw-dropping views and magnetic terrain that just keeps pulling you back. Plus, there’s the peer pressure. Cannon’s fan base of diehard skiers loves its challenging, twisty, steep, and often-bumped-up runs. And as for your friends who ski elsewhere and brag about bagging a black diamond? Just tell them you ski Cannon and leave it at that.
TRAILS: THE RADDEST BLUE WITH THE BEST VIEW
At Cannon, blue-square Vista Way gives you more skier cred than most—and after skiing it once, you’ll understand why. Hop on the Aerial Tramway or Cannonball Quad Charilift to the 4,080-foot summit and get ready for the view.
Seemingly close enough to touch, you see Mount Lafayette and the surrounding mountains, nothing else. No condos, no lights, nothing—except pure majestic nature. Cannon is in a category of its own.
TRAILS: BEST TRAIL TO SHUT UP & SKI
You know those people who talk a lot about skiing? They’re always quoting a product review, or bragging about their top-of-the-line equipment. Well, those folks probably won’t enjoy skiing Hardscrabble, a skinny, twisty trail—a true and pure skiing experience, without the bells and whistles of man-made snow or grooming. It’s hardscrabble, rough-and-tough skiing. And it’s loads of fun.
The New England Ski Museum”s permanent collection, “From the First Tracks to the Fall Line: eight thousand years of skiing,” covers the development of skiing from its prehistoric roots up to present day.
If you want to ski a living legend, go to Cannon Mountain.
And if you want to meet one, go to Bodefest on April 5 at Cannon Mountain. 100% of the event registration fee will benefit The Turtle Ridge Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovative and progressive adaptive and youth athletic opportunities in our communities. Bode Miller will be there.
Best of luck to all of our U.S. hometown athletes at Sochi!