1988 Ski Industry Class at Sugarloaf


The year was 1988. The skis were skinny, straight, and often upwards of 200 centimeters in length.

Rear-entry boots were still a thing, and Dynamic, Olin, and Pre still made skis. And judging by the gear worn by Donna K. Denman Erwin ’89, Rob Reynolds ’89, Bob Harkins, and Barclay Rappeport ’90 in this photo taken at Sugarloaf, apparel by CB Sports and Descente was still very much de rigueur.

The Ferro Alumni Center team posted the image (taken by ever-present yearbook photographer Roni Sue Pomerleau Bower ’89) to the UMF Alumni Facebook page in early January — in a nod to #throwbackthursday and to promote UMF Ski Day at Sugarloaf, held not long ago on Friday, January 25. (Nearly 90 alumni and friends enjoyed making turns together, as well as catching up over a scrumptious buffet lunch and at a UMF-only après event in the Widowmaker Lounge. And, in case you missed it, we’ll be hosting it again next year, probably on the last Friday in January.)

As evinced by several comments, the Facebook post stirred some happy memories for Erwin and Rappeport, as well as others for whom skiing at Sugarloaf was a regular feature of their UMF experience. Rappeport, who is now the e-commerce manager and promotions maven for the global ski brand alliance Marker Dalbello Völkl USA, says the photo reflects what for her was just another day in paradise.

“It was probably taken during one of our Intro to Teaching or Intro to Coaching classes,” says Rappeport, sporting the headband at the far right. “And that’s what we did three days a week, every week in season. We were up at Sugarloaf, on the hill and in class, learning from some amazing technical skiers.”

Among those instructors was Harkins, a 2010 Maine Ski Hall of Fame inductee, former U.S. Ski Team coach and director of athlete development, who is third from left.

“The way Coach (Tom) Reynolds ran the program was he brought in skiing celebrities, or people who were solid in the field of skiing, in whatever they did,” says Rappeport. “It was cool. It’s what made the program what it was at the time — that we were able to take all the classroom learning we did in the fall and then put it out on the hill. And then have people guiding us through whatever our goals were, which for me, at that time, was earning PSIA Level III certification. The opportunity to work with and learn from such amazing skiers was just unmatched.”

Erwin, who supervises the children’s seasonal ski program at Mad River Glen in Vermont and is membership manager at the New England Ski Museum at the base of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, N.H., (where she is also a ski instructor) says the photo was probably taken in late winter 1988. The absence of hats on everyone except Erwin — “I was always cold,” she recalls — is one telltale sign of spring. But Erwin says there’s another clue that only she and those who regularly skied with Rappeport would likely discern.

“It’s what Barclay is wearing,” says Erwin of the Club A jacket, which was part of the uniform Sugarloaf issued to Rappeport and her fellow ski instructors that year. That outfit, says Erwin, and the one she was wearing in the photo that graced the cover of the following year’s trail guide, were staples in Rappeport’s ’88 ski wardrobe.

88-89 Sugarloaf Trail Guide featuring Barclay Rappeport.

Barclay Rappeport ’90 takes the lead on the cover of Sugarloaf’s 1988–89 Trail Guide. (Photo courtesy of the Instagram account @vintage_sugarloaf.)

Erwin echoes Rappeport’s recollections about the halcyon days at Sugarloaf and the enduring value of the educational opportunities — on and off the mountain.

“Coach Reynolds and Doc Desroches incubated a really unique program at UMF. Nobody else offered the same combination of academics and sport. And the network of people that Coach and Doc had in the industry — that we had access to as students — was unending,” says Erwin. “We were outside together, doing the thing we loved, and in classrooms and in interviews with industry professionals as part of our schooling. And we keep this network going. We have a lot of alumni who work at the executive levels of the ski industry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they see somebody who’s a UMF student coming their way, they try to create opportunities.”

For Rappeport, who spoke with Farmington First while preparing for a trip to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to work the annual Elevate Women’s Ski Camp, the photo is a powerful reminder of her roots.

“It just makes me appreciate where I came from and that I got such a solid beginning,” she says. “Part of the reason I’ve been asked to ski with a group in Jackson Hole is because of the background that I got at Farmington and the credentials I earned there. The whole experience was a great learning opportunity.”

— By Marc Glass, director of advancement