Steep, fast and long — Sugarloaf’s Narrow Gauge putting Olympic hopeful skiers to the test

Posted Feb. 08, 2013, at 5:28 a.m.
Emil Husson of the Stratton Mountain School of Vermont slams a gate in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Emil Husson of the Stratton Mountain School of Vermont slams a gate in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Henry Townsend, a student at Carrabassett Valley Academy, pushes off on a practice run before competing in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Henry Townsend, a student at Carrabassett Valley Academy, pushes off on a practice run before competing in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Wyatt Quieroloin of the Killington Mountain School shreds around a gate in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Wyatt Quieroloin of the Killington Mountain School shreds around a gate in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Vincent Corrado of the Castleton State College Ski Team of Vermont sails off a jump in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Vincent Corrado of the Castleton State College Ski Team of Vermont sails off a jump in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Clarke Macomber of the Holdnerness School Ski Team of New Hampshire catches some air in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Clarke Macomber of the Holdnerness School Ski Team of New Hampshire catches some air in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Robert Artsma, of the Waterville Valley Black & Blue Trail Smashers, races in a tuck position while in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Robert Artsma, of the Waterville Valley Black & Blue Trail Smashers, races in a tuck position while in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
A composite image shows Travis Ahmann of Green Mountain Valley School catching some air of a jump in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
A composite image shows Travis Ahmann of Green Mountain Valley School catching some air of a jump in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Ryutaro Koda, a Carrabassett Valley Academy student from Japan, hits a gate during the Webber Cup Super G, Monday, Feb. 2013, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Ryutaro Koda, a Carrabassett Valley Academy student from Japan, hits a gate during the Webber Cup Super G, Monday, Feb. 2013, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
A composite image shows the positioning technique used by Michael Ferri of the Killington Mountain School as he races through the gates in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
A composite image shows the positioning technique used by Michael Ferri of the Killington Mountain School as he races through the gates in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Kelsey Chenoweth of Stowe, Vermont, races out of the gate at the start of her run in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Kelsey Chenoweth of Stowe, Vermont, races out of the gate at the start of her run in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo
Racers stretch at the top of the Narrow Gauge trail before competing in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf.
Robert F. Bukaty
Racers stretch at the top of the Narrow Gauge trail before competing in the Eastern Cup Super G, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2012, at Sugarloaf. Buy Photo

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — In the Northeast there’s only one ski trail steep enough, fast enough and long enough to be sanctioned as an official downhill venue: Sugarloaf’s fabled Narrow Gauge. Last week, 100 of the East’s hottest young skiers put the trail to the test in a series of races that make up the annual Speed Week.

Narrow Gauge has been the site of a World Cup race, in 1971, and three U.S. National Championships. As the training ground for Carrabassett Valley Academy skiers, it’s no wonder many of its alumni, such as Bode Miller, have had so much success.

Aspiring Olympians, ages 16-21, competed in skiing’s two fastest disciplines, the Super G and Downhill. In the latter, the fastest skiers may reach speeds in excess of 80 mph — which is why Downhill is known as the discipline that requires the greatest amount of insanity.

Photographer Robert Bukaty went to up the ’Loaf to check out the action.

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