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

Posted Feb. 08, 2013, at 5:28 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 14, 2013, at 2:17 p.m.

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.