For most local children, the Kanc, a classic, magical rope tow, is where they learn to ski, learn to love to ski, and then, maybe, depending on the kid, learn to race, therein developing an incredible race program from the bottom up. Kanc Carvers is one of those experiences kids remember forever, first as little guys learning to race with the help of the Lin-Wood High School Race Team, coached by Aaron Loukes, Jeff Clermont, Kim Pinkham, Keegan Rice and Bailey Clermont. Then those little kids grow up to be big kids on the race team turning into Kanc Carver coaches, bringing the love of skiing and racing full circle.
Aaron Loukes shared how the Kanc Carvers began when his daughter Chloe was in kindergarten, and now she is a freshmen at UNH. His daughter Lucy is a junior at Lin-Wood, now a Kanc Carver coach, and son, Charlie, is on the LW race team. “This is as good for my high school race team members as it for the kids, reinforcing the fundamentals of great skiing. Kanc Carvers provides opportunity, experience, and instruction; but along with that, it helps to create the desire and passion for skiing, which our community embraces and encourages. The HS ski coaches share the idea of helping and caring for others. I have no problems coming up with coaches each year. This is the biggest difference that our team and community has. Current coaches were Kanc Carvers and former Kanc Carvers are snowsports instructors or race coaches around the east.”
Jeff Clermont’s kids are grown up, but racing remains an integral part of his life, along with a love for the Kanc, where he first skied as a kid. “We first teach kids how to ski. Then we teach them how to race. Their movements become instinctive. In training, we push our limits, telling the kids: It’s OK to to crash, blow out and make mistakes here. This is where we learn.”
And what a spectacular place to learn; the Kanc is perfectly groomed always, maintains its own snowmaking, and runs by volunteers, funded by the town of Lincoln. The rope tow is nothing to laugh at; this is a serious tow, as accessible to toddlers as experts, provided you are willing to hang on for the ride of your life. Open most days after school from 3-5 and later for Kanc Carvers and even later still for middle and high school ski team training, the Kanc’s energy is unmatched. I stood at the base smiling while our Carver listened intently to what his big kid coaches were teaching him and his friends. Greta skied happily with her friend Jesse from kindergarten, too little to participate yet in Kanc Carvers, but certainly not to watch eagerly from any vantage point they could, little faces shining bright from the cold, lights, and anticipation.
In those moments, that ski team magic was clear; this is how they develop that love– because they are sharing it with friends from school, old and young alike. Jesse’s dad, Marcus Corey, was on ski patrol that night, and as he stood there talking with Geoff and me, along with other parents, we understood without words that our little guys would be the big kids in a flash. Marcus later reflected, “From where I stand, the scene is amazing. The sun is setting, the lights come on, the music plays and our kids are learning to ski from older kids they already look up to . This is all about atmosphere and Kanc Carvers creates that atmosphere where kids can grow into excellent skiers, and feel pride in the community which supports them.”
Thank you, Aaron, Jeff, Kim, Marcus, HS ski team members Dan O’Connor, Abbie Sawyer, Lucy Loukes, Kai Goode, Delana Welch, and Xena Bartlett, along with Tara Tower, Dave Dovholuk, ski patrollers, and endless volunteers who keep the penny candy and warm smiles stocked inside the Kanc. We are lucky to have this incredible resource in our backyard; of course, I can’t actually tell you where that backyard is, or I’d have to kill you. The tourists can have Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods, and the Ice Castles; but the Kanc, dear friends, belongs to these kids and their families. You are always welcome to visit from time to time, but midweek magic at the Kanc under the lights is nothing short of a mountain miracle. Ask any kid in town.