Higley Ski Festival embraces kids’ participation, new lodge
PUBLISHED: MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2015 AT 12:30 AM
UPDATED: MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2015 AT 12:12 PM
Mark S. Chmielewicz, Clinton, competes in the Higley Hustle freestyle race Sunday at the Higley Flow State Park in South Colton.
COLTON — Dividing the tree line, a snow-covered,
track-dashed trail winding through the woods of Higley Flow State Park
was the remains of the success of the 20th annual Higley Hustle Ski
The two-day event, which began Saturday with
its family day, was part of Colton’s 17th annual Winterfest, ending
Sunday with a 10K and 5K classic cross-county ski race, a kids race and a
5K freestyle cross-country race.
Standing at a
crossroads of trails, in the silent Sunday afternoon sun, David I.
Trithart waited for the two lone participants in the last race of the
festival to cross the finish line.
“I think cross-country
skiing should be widely popular in the north country,” Mr. Trithart
said, checking the stopwatch. “We have a lot of people that just like to
come out and challenge themselves to a 10K that they know they are not
going win, and they laugh all the way around the course. The more
serious skiers don’t waste their breath laughing.”
from the finish line, through another small trail that meanders through
the state park, a new lodge stands. Race coordinator Judy A. Fuhr, who
has been putting the race together with her husband, Edward A., for all
20 years, said the lodge is one of the two biggest changes she has seen
throughout the years.
“The lodge is the single biggest
change because before, older folks used to come up, park their car and
go out and head home. Now people can come and get warm and go back out,”
Mrs. Fuhr said. “Also, families come with little ones, and we have a
smaller track for the kids. Plus, a warm bathroom helps.”
lodge came from money raised by the Friends of Higley Flow State Park
and the labor was provided by the maintenance department of the Thousand
Island State Park Commission, Mrs. Fuhr said.
year, family day, on Saturday, was extremely successful,” Mrs. Fuhr
said. “Sunday the numbers were a little down, but there were more kids,
and that is a plus.”
These days, with video games and
online gaming, Mrs. Fuhr said, it is both great and important to see
young people in a more active environment.
through a period some years ago where there were a lot of kids attending
who were a part of ski clubs, but that seemed to fizzle out,” Mrs. Fuhr
said. “We are now starting to see a rebirth of that again, so the lodge
Mr. Trithart said that over the years of
his participating in the festival, he found the increase in children
getting involved to be a plus.
“We have had kids come out
of this event throughout the years who have gone on to larger,
statewide events, so it is great that we have had more kids because it
means that we will have more coming throughout the years,” he said.
a transmission of a man’s voice over Mr. Trithart’s walkie-talkie
sliced into the silence of the woods, alerting him to the first of the
two racers making his way to the finish line, and, in the distance, Mark
S. Chmielewicz of Clinton pushed his way to the finish.
a series of deep breaths and with his face bitten red by the cold
January air, Dr. Chmielewicz, who has been racing seriously for almost
nine years, said this was his first time skiing at Higley and he was
“I can say, for Nordic skiing, the conditions
are fantastic; this is exceptional for a state park with challenging
terrain,” he said. “For ski trails, I think this is a jewel not too many
people know about.”