According to Charlie Lord, the first Sugar Slalom was held on April 30, 1939. It had been a good season and the general feeling was that there should be a special event to mark the season’s end. If it was going to be a race, then somehow it had to be different than the other races held during the season. The Sugar Slalom was born!
The race would be held on the Nose Dive and the Stowe-Mansfield Association (early version of the Stowe Area Association) would provide the sugar-on-snow. Since this was before the single chair, everything for the race would have to be hauled up the Nose Dive including the sap and sugaring-off pan.
The race was a big success and drew nearly 100 entrants.
So who came up with the Sugar Slalom name? Charlie Lord wrote that it was Roland Palmedo.
Mike Leach historian for the Mount Mansfield Ski Club took time out from his Sugar Slalom duties this year to identify Roland Palmedo.
I’ve written about Roland Palmedo before, but let’s just review a partial list of Palmedo’s contributions to Stowe, the state of Vermont, and skiing.
Palmedo founded the Amateur Ski Club of New York and came to Stowe in 1932 to check out the skiing potential of the area. This would begin a relationship with Stowe that would culminate in his building the original single chair on Mansfield.
Palmedo’s concern for skiing safety helped start the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol and also the National Ski Patrol. In fact, Palmedo was awarded National Appointment #2 in recognition of his influence on starting the National Ski Patrol system.
For the 1934-35 season, Palmedo was instrumental in seeing that the United States fielded both a men’s and women’s ski team to compete on the international circuit.
Palmedo published three books on skiing. His 1937 “The International Sport of Skiing” helped inform the American public about a sport that had primarily been European. Later in the 1950s his English translation of “The New Official Austrian Ski System” helped bring American ski schools up to date on the wedeln.
And of course, Palmedo would build Mad River Glen when Stowe became too glitzy for his tastes. Mad River Glen remains a tribute to Palmedo’s vision of skiing. It wasn’t supposed to be easy and comfy, there should be some effort involved.
The Sugar Slalom is one of many traditions that take us back to the early days of skiing here in Stowe. It should also be a reminder of the contributions of Roland Palmedo.
I know that the current embodiment of the Sugar Slalom is much more “fan-friendly”, but I do miss it being on the Nose Dive. There was something about how difficult it was just to watch the race or get to the sugar-on-snow that made it seem “old school.” And there were many years where I didn’t get any sugar-on-snow before the kids finished it all!