Chummy Broomhall Award: This award is named after Chummy, who was the Chisholm Ski Club leader for 70 plus years, 2 time Olympian, and builder of the Olympic race courses for Squaw Valley, Lake Placid and Black Mountain. He embodied the spirit of being a volunteer as he was a man who gave his time to generations. It is in this spirit that this award be in his honor for the unsung heroes of ski racing.
This year’s recipient of our NENSA 2020 Chummy Broomhall Award is Jim Rodridgues ~ posthumous
Last February, during one of our weekly NENSA staff meetings, we started talking about our NENSA Awards for 2020. Two awards were easily and unanimously decided that day – our Chummy Award and our John Caldwell Award recipients. This was just a few short weeks before Jim’s sudden and unexpected death. We wish he could be here now to receive this award – we know he would have been thrilled – for the honor, and for the association with Chummy – a dear friend of his and part of his Chisholm Ski Club.
After growing up in the city of Oakland California, Jim learned to ski when he was 18 at Yosemite National Park, and soon became a backcountry guide for 10 years. In 1985 Jim moved to New Hampshire, as the XC Ski Director at Temple Mountain in Peterborough New Hampshire, where he built ski trails, and by 1989 had a 1 km lighted loop with snowmaking. During that time he was also the Milford High School XC Ski Coach bringing the team along to five State Championship titles.
Jim was the Event Director at the New England Nordic Ski Association for 12 years, and helped create a higher standard of New England Nordic ski racing. Jim launched an annual Event Organizer Seminar to help New England race directors and venues raise the bar in their operations ranging from homologation of championship level race courses to hosting youth events. He was a tremendous regional resource, quietly helping bring premier competitions to our region. Jim has been a tireless volunteer and resource to so many individuals and organizations for over 40 years.
Janice Sibilia had the pleasure of working with Jim for ten years at NENSA. “He was a fabulous mentor and a very giving person. He expected 100% from all of us, but at the same time, had a great way of encouraging and working with each person and venue as an individual. His passion for nordic skiing and all things related, was contagious and his laugh and enthusiasm was something I will never forget. He was truly one of a kind.”
Jim was a FIS Technical Delegate (TD) at races ranging from youth events, to National and International high-level events such as NCAAs, Junior Nationals, and international roller ski races. Jim always went above the call of duty to ensure races were at the highest caliber and the best race experience for all involved. Jim’s TD resume speaks for itself with over 130 events, but what sets him apart was his constant search for ways to contribute to the Nordic community, and to offer his expertise in any capacity – officially or advisory.
Amie Smith remembers “I first worked with Jim in 2010-11 when I was the Race Director for a NENSA Eastern Cup in Boston. He then took me under his wings when I officially started working for NENSA in 2015 as the Competitive Program Director. He supported and mentored me as a TD, and for that I will always be grateful.”
Justin Beckwith adds that “Jim was able to serve any position with authority yet able to have a wicked sense of humor – he no doubt helped raise the level of New England and American events.”
Ollie Burruss thinks “Unsung hero is a great description of Jim Rodrigues. While many of us in the race organization and race official world know of Jim and his outsized contributions to our sport, he was probably unknown to most athletes, coaches, parents, wax techs, and spectators. It is one of the grand ironies of his passing that a man known for his enormous personality, warmth, and good cheer to his friends and coworkers was never recognized by much of the race community whom he served so tirelessly. Whether Jim was cracking jokes and telling stories when everything was going well, or commiserating when things were tough, he always had a positive effect on race day. New England skiing lost a real one, but his legacy will live on through those who learned from his drive and commitment to making race day the best it could be for the athletes.”
Knut Sauer remembers “Jim was a frequent TD/COC in Lake Placid where I am a long time dedicated volunteer. I had the opportunity to interact with Jim many times, and observe his work, which got me inspired to become a TD. Jim encouraged me to take the step and become a TD. I had the opportunity to shadow him, unofficially, a few times and he was a great mentor and truly a believer in the sport.“
Mike Bastisi from ORDA adds, “Jim was the one who encouraged us here at ORDA into going after bigger events again, and it was through his friendship and mentoring that I’ve been able to hone my skills as an event organizer/official in regards to Nordic competition. I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed if even for a few short years.”
Besides his multifaceted role as an official, Jim is the person to do what is needed, make the call, pick up the shovel or jump in the Pisten Bully to groom the course. Whatever questions needed to be answered and whichever tasks needed to be done, Jim was a resource, and NENSA and our entire cross country ski community was lucky to have such an outstanding individual in our ski community.
Fred Bailey fondly recalls that “Jim always impressed upon me that we as TDs are at events to make sure they can give the user a good experience. Often this means helping the OC get ready on race morning with venue setup, particularly the mass start chevron. Sometimes it meant shoveling. Jim’s truck was always full of tools to help pull off the event. One of my funnier memories is him and Justin Easter gearing up for a night of riding the tracks pans on the snowmobile tracks to make sure we had deep set tracks for the next day. They had a good laugh about who would be the first to fall off or lose all feeling in their limbs from the cold! Jim loved ski racing and we all greatly benefitted from his passion.”
John Estle of Fairbanks AK, and fellow FIS TD sums up Jim’s volunteer spirit this way, “Jim was an active skier, but was also active in almost every aspect of the sport as a Level 3 FIS Technical Delegate, Chief of Competition for major national calendar events, mentor to organizers and officials as NENSA events coordinator for many years, designer of trails, volunteer at whatever job needed to be filled. Jim had a lasting impact on event organizers and officials throughout New England via his role as NENSA event coordinator. He used his leadership roles to mentor and teach those with whom he came in contact for the long-term improvement of our sport. There was no aspect of the sport in which he was not active and did not have extensive experience. He did all this with a smile on his face and a good sense of humor, which engaged others, assisting in the transfer of knowledge to ‘the next generation.’ “
NENSA and FIS TD Bill Rogers can still recall skiing the Holderness NH course with Jim where he emphasized the simplicity of the TD’s role – “keep the race fair and keep it safe”. Bill still thinks of this simple advice to this day when he is on an assignment.
Longtime friend Alison Weber shared this remembrance of Jim, that captures his volunteer spirit well, as he was always ahead of the curve, supporting kids of all income levels, always rooting for the under dog and the top dog. “Jim always kept up with what the younger kids were doing in their ski development and always wanted to encourage kids in their racing careers. He was always cheering on the kids at Koch League and Junior races, and kept himself really informed about how all of the kids were progressing. Jim and Chip (Woodbury) always got together when they could at races and other times to talk about skiing development and how things could be done without spending exorbitant amounts of money. Jim was one who liked to come up with new ideas and invent ways where things could be done with whatever materials they had on hand. One of the last times Chip and Jim talked…last season at the Great Glen Koch Festival, he and Chip spent hours chatting. One of the discussion points was how to use foam shipping corner protectors as trail markers! Jim always enjoyed those good times, just jawing about skiing….with his wonderful laugh.”
Brad Bates, Head of School at the Dublin School had this to say of Jim, which is reflective of so many other venues Jim worked with too: “Our Nordic Center is only six years old and we would not be anywhere close to where we are today without Jim’s wisdom, help, and confidence. Jim whipped us into shape and helped us organize and train our volunteer base. As he had done in so many towns around New England he helped us build community by making everyone feel they were important and they were valued. He had a story and ten minutes for everyone he met.
These old friendships ran deep for Jim. He is well known in the Monadnock Region for his work at Temple Mountain back in the day. He was way ahead of his time in creating a “Super Kilometer” race trail at the base of the mountain using the ski area’s snowmaking system. Those who worked with him at that time clearly had a special bond with him. Jim was not always the easiest person to work with but after a year or two, you realized his bluster was endearing, and not meant to be taken too seriously. He had opinions and was not afraid to tell you how you felt. And most of the time, despite not always wanting to agree with him, he was right! He was extremely loyal and would always defend his buddies. The Dublin XC club loved working with him and we hung on his every word. We miss him every day and will never forget what he did for skiing in our area and throughout the northeast.”
Fred Griffin shares how we all feel, that “Jim understood every aspect of nordic skiing. He was a racer, groomer, coach, event manager, Chief of Comp, official. He knew something about everything. At every level he made lasting friends. He gave all of us so much of him that his final legacy is one of warm and lasting memories. Jim, we miss you!”
“What comes to my mind when I think of Jim is that whenever I knew he was coming to Black Mountain as an official or just a club member to help, he was a person you always looked forward to seeing. He shared his knowledge in a way that made you want to do better for the sport he loved.” shared Roger Arsenault of Chisholm Ski Club.
Fellow TD Carlie Casey adds, “Jim was such a big-hearted and generous friend! Like most who were lucky enough to know him, I miss him.”
Justin Easter recalled “My last conversation with Jim was about keeping skiing affordable and accessible to everyone.”
Dan Warner “Mouse” of Chisholm Ski Club sums it up: “Jim was a strong leader in our community and he is missed. He would be honored to get the Broomhall award. RIP Jim!”
Jim’s good friend and fellow FIS TD Matt Pauli of Anchorage AK echoes all of our thoughts ~ “As with everything I do in skiing, Jim always comes to mind.”
Congratulations to Jim, for his many years of volunteer service to our Nordic community, and for all that he accomplished and gave to our sport over the past 40 years. The fact that Jim is not here to accept the award is heartbreaking, but his many friends and colleagues feel honored to know this Chummy Broomhall Award was bestowed upon him this year.
Being today is December 23rd, we will close with this story from Brad Bates of a time when Jim resembled Santa Claus… “During the Eastern Cup at our Nordic Center last winter I was called out to our famous “S Curves” section of the 3 km loop due to some fast and icy conditions. I kept radioing back to race headquarters for heavier duty rakes to help break up the crust. Just as I was about to panic, our groomer Steve Sanders, one of Jim’s old friends, came snowmobiling out to where we were working with Jim in tow. Without a word Jim jumped off the sled with a large bag in his hands and began spreading salt on the icy sections as if he were distributing toys to children. Within seconds, the areas that he had salted were soft enough to rake into some sweet corduroy. After a quick smile and mentioning how this same technique worked at Black Mountain in ’96 or Placid in ’88…, “he sprang to his sleigh, to [Steve] gave a whistle. And away they flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight.” Good luck to you all, and to all a good night…”