VIC trail expansion takes another step

From left, John Morton, Paul Smith’s College athletics director Jim Tucker, Tim Burke, PSC President Cathy Dove and Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross Country and Biathlon Center manager Kris Cheney-Seymour, a 1991 PSC graduate, during their recent trip to the VIC. (Photo provided)

PAUL SMITHS — The Paul Smith’s College VIC took another step in its Nordic ski trail expansion in November when the VIC hosted John Morton of Morton Trails.

Morton, a former Olympic athlete and ski coach at Dartmouth College, spent most of the day on foot exploring trail improvement opportunities with Bobcats athletics and VIC staff, as well as Paul Smith’s native and Olympic skier Tim Burke.

“In the 28 years of designing recreational trails and competition venues, I have rarely seen a location with more potential for trail-based recreational activities than what currently exists at Paul Smith’s College,” Morton said.

Morton explained that colleges with successful Nordic skiing programs often require their student athletes to commute an hour one way and several times a week for training while here students can walk from their dorm rooms.

Future work will include include minor widening and turn reconfiguration on select trails, giving both competitive and recreational Nordic skiers an improved experience at the VIC. Also in discussion is the addition of a biathlon range.

Staff involved emphasized that the effort is being carefully balanced between skiing improvements and other popular VIC uses, ranging from bird watching and nature photography to public programming and environmental education, and that this next phase will continue to best serve visitors who enjoy the facility and its 25-mile trail network.

The Nordic expansion is part of the college’s ongoing Olympic sports initiative, which began a year ago with the addition of women’s ice hockey and hiring of Andrea Kilbourne-Hill, an Olympic silver medalist and director of hockey at Paul Smith’s. This August, Kilbourne-Hill was one of the five Olympians to join college’s Advisory Committee for Olympic Sports.

The group includes Burke, Billy Demong, Chris Mazder and Andrew Weibrecht. The five athletes represent a combined record of 17 Winter Olympic Games appearances and six medal wins.

“Having grown up training at the VIC with Tim Burke and others, I know how much potential is at Paul Smith’s College and the VIC,” said Demong, a two-time Nordic combined Olympic medalist. “John Morton is the perfect person to help develop that potential and I am really excited about being able to bring USA Nordic teams to PSC for some great training opportunities.”