Friday, May 3, 2002 - Information
Racing in Northern Maine

By: Dr. Donald Christie Jr.

The Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC) has established two world-class Nordic and winter biathlon venues -- Presque Isle and Ft. Kent -- in that remote part of the state (the other comparable Maine Nordic courses being at Sugarloaf, Rangeley, and Black Mountain-Rumford, but without the excellent lodge facilities found at Presque Isle and, still farther "up" there, at Ft. Kent, right on the border). For you North American history buffs, this is Webster-Ashburton Treaty territory -- the Eastern portion of "fifty-four forty or fight."

The locals gave a warm welcome to the racers at this spring's Verizon Nordic Heritage Races in Presque Isle, much as you would expect in such "down-to-earth" places, and the officiating and timing with all local personnel, trained in just the past season (some having been volunteers at Soldier Hollow), went off smoothly. As you can tell from the results lists, it was a small, but distinguished group of U.S. and Canadian skiers that headed up the roster for those races.

They claim that skiing in Maine got its start in the 19th century up in Aroostook County, the state's largest county by far, known there as, simply, "The County," when immigrant residents of the towns of Sweden and Stockholm, Maine (no fooling on these names) brought the lifestyle with them from Scandinavia. The Maine Winter Sports Center hopes to rekindle that long-ago fervor. Already, kids are skiing circles around grown-ups, kids who 2-3 years ago had never heard of the sport! A huge infusion of money by a private foundation created the MWSC, a wonderful thing for The County, which had been an economically depressed area, vis--vis the more populous downstate regions. (Its geographical splendor and potential of human spirit were never in question, however.)

Now, an important part of the world comes to them. More than that, however, it has brought the concept of a healthy lifestyle, using the marvels of Nature around them -- they get more snow up there than any other part of the state - to people who might never have thought of such a thing.

Dr.Christie graduated from the University of Rochester medical school in 1968 and received specialty training in internal medicine from the University of Iowa. He became a member of the American College of Sports Medicine in 1976, participated in an ad hoc study group that defined "sports medicine" and "team physician" in the late '70's, and was later elected to Fellowship in the College. He has served as varsity team physician at Princeton University for six years. For the past year, he has been devoting all of his practice time (and much of his "off-duty" time) to sports medicine and exercise science, with a particular concentration on Nordic skiing.


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