Rich Adamczyk, Sid, Matt Albert, and Lynn Avery on the Thunderbolt after the December 2008 ice storms.
The Thunderbolt was built in 1934 by a few dozen men of the 107th Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Major races ceased on the Thunderbolt by the late 40’s. Collegiate races went kaput by the late 50’s. And the Thunderbolt’s use a downhill ski racing trail last occurred in the mid 60’s during Williams College’s winter carnival. Throughout its decades of use, both official and unofficial, the Thunderbolt has always had its caretakers; groups of individuals who kept the legendary trail in race ready condition, or, in the post 1960’s, at least decent enough for a few wild and unsavory runs every year.
The original care takers: men of the 107th CCC Company.
But keeping the trail in decent condition and preparing it for its 75th anniversary downhill ski race are two very different things. Like an overweight baby-boomer who hadn’t exercised in 30 years, disuse had allowed the Thunderbolt to grow thick and heavy. And getting it back in race shape was going to take a long and arduous effort….and maybe even a little pain. But thanks to the back breaking work of our club members, the Thunderbolt is now starting to look like it did back in the 40’s. Dozens of members have showed up over the summer and fall during our various work efforts on the trail, and to these individuals we owe our thanks. But three men stand out in particular when it comes to dedicated and tireless work on the Thunderbolt. Josh Chittenden, Rich Adamczyk, and Conrad Sidway have spent more time maintaining the Thunderbolt than anybody I know. Josh and Rich, being of younger age and limber tendons, also ski the trail every winter more than anybody I know, to the tune of 30 to 40 runs per year. These guys are dedicated to the trail in ways that most can’t imagine. They know every tree, every turn, every rocky outcropping like the back of their pole-saws. These guys are good! They are the embodiment of that old-fashioned, sedulous work ethic and devotion that are retold in stories about “the good old days.” Because of their efforts in organizing and leading various work crews, the Thunderbolt was cleared last year after the December ice storms in a just a few weeks. Anybody who made even one run on the Thunderbolt last year did so because of a handful of Thunderbolt Ski Runners. And due to their continued diligence leading work parties onto the slopes of Greylock this past summer and fall, the Thunderbolt is now almost as fit and trim as it was in its prime. As the 2009-2010 ski seasons approaches, and as we make final preparations for the 2010 75th Anniversary Race on the Thunderbolt, I thought it would be nice to take a moment and acknowledge the work done by these modern care-takers of the Thunderbolt through this photo-essay.
John Armstrong, Rich Adamczyk, and Sid on the Thunderbolt’s Big Schuss.
Thunderbolt Ski Runners prepare a telephone pole for transport to the Thunderbolt.
Josh Chittenden pulls a pole up to the new bridge location.
Reattaching the pole after it slips off for the 5th time on its way up…
While the poles are en route the old bridge is prepped for removal.
Finally the poles arrive on location…
Using the truck’s winch to set the poles in position.
Using elbow grease and backbone to make final adjustments.
The PT decking is readied for shipment.
John Armstrong and Rich Adamczyk screw the decking in place.
The decking is complete.
Care takers of the Thunderbolt – Sid, Josh, and Rich put the finishing touches on the bridge.
Rich Adamczyk, John Armstrong, Josh Chittenden, and Chris Samson on the new bridge.
Sid on the Thunderbolt…exactly where he wants to be.