By Betsey Foster
Bethel native son David Carter was named to the Maine Ski Hall of Fame last week. David grew up on the Carter farm in Middle Intervale, and he and his wife Anne own Carter’s Crosscountry Ski Center in Bethel as well as Oxford.
This recognition comes at a difficult time in life for the Carters because David is dealing with cancer. The Hall of Fame honor is a piece of joy for David and all his family.
Now in his mid-60s, David began his long ski career with some small wood skis from Paris Manufacturing Company and jar rubbers. As a kid, he and his brothers as well as neighborhood kids would climb the hills around the farm property, attach the skis to their boots with stretched jar rubbers, and then ski down the slope. Of course, the jar rubbers broke part way down the hill. The challenge then became one of staying on top of their skis without any sort of binding to keep ski and boot connected. Once they toppled over, they’d climb back up the hill, pull out some more jar rubbers and re-attach the skis, and start all over again. Not very sophisticated but it worked.
By the time David began his freshman year at Gould Academy, his skiing was about to move to a whole new level. While playing on the basketball team that year, he saw some students outsideon cross-country skis. After practice, he went out to talk with the ski coach, Paul Kailey, who told him he could come ski with them. David promptly went back inside and told his basketball coach, Hi Berry, that he was quitting the team and joining the cross-country skiers.
For the rest of his years at Gould, David took numerous workshops with European skiers who Gould brought over to help train their athletes. He also was taken under the wing of Rumford ski coach Herb Adams and attended many of their races. David developed technique well beyond the days of jar rubbers and wood skis. So precise was he about technique that he became known as Technique Carter.
After four years on the Gould cross-country ski team, David went on to University of Maine-Orono where he was on the ski team.
After Orono, David worked for the railroad by warm weather and in the ski industry by winter. He worked with such greats as Olympian Jack Lufkin and Avery Caldwell, who started Jackson Ski Touring (N.H.). David was also hired by the town of Intervale, N.H. to start a cross-country program there. He continued his skiing, racing in the National Masters Series as well as citizen races.
“I did this because it was my dream,” said David. “I wanted to get as many people on skis as I could.”
Given that close to 100 children per year participated in the program each year, that makes for quite a few little feet on skis.
The Bethel cross-country ski center was another dream. Back when David was still a teenager at Gould, he bought 100 acres along the Intervale Road from Central Maine Power. This was several miles north of the current ski center. He split the land with his brother Tim, keeping 35 acres for himself. Those acres would eventually become the start of his cross-country center in Bethel.
In the late 1980s, David put up a small cabin on the land, cut some trails, and opened the Grafton Notch Camp. And the evolution of that cabin may, in itself, be justification for Ski Hall of Fame induction.
The cabin originally functioned as a small carriage house at the Carter farm. Sitting unused, David saw it as a perfect tiny ski hut. At 4 a.m. one day, David, his brothers Tim and Tom, their father Dick, and some neighbors began to haul the building up the Intervale Road. They had felled trees, made a sled for the structure, hitched it to a tractor and then used it and several trucks to move the building the mile-and-a-half down the road. Why 4 a.m.? Because there was no traffic.
A few years after this, David bought the 35 acres where the present cross-country center is located, opened it in 1992, and expanded the lodge three years ago.
David has skied with great abandon even while running the ski centers and participated in numerous local races such as the annual Langlauf race and Pole Paddle and Paw at what was Sunday River Cross-country Center (now The Outdoor Center). Facing his mortality, David and Anne are living at their Bethel lodge and, on days he feels up to it, he puts on his skis and heads out on the trails to celebrate his dream come true. This past weekend he watched one of his granddaughters, India May Lucas, ski in the SASSI cross-country ski race at Black Mountain. Another generation he has influenced.
All of this culminated in his recent naming to the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.
The Maine Ski Hall of Fame was established in 2003 to honor persons who have substantially advanced the sport of skiing and the ski industry, with special reference to the State of Maine. The Hall of Fame is a semi-autonomous division of the Ski Museum of Maine, a non-profit organization which is based in Farmington.