Poof Tardiff: Ski Champs II

Hello fellow Berlinites. As I write about the 1942 Berlin High School championship ski team, I have names to the team picture this time, thanks to Odette Leclerc of the Moffett House Museum. If you have never been there, it is loaded with Berlin history. Check it out someday.

The 1942 BHS ski team started out where they left off in the winter of 1941. The Northern New England Interscholastic Ski Championships were going to take place here in Berlin. There were four events listed on the two-day program, including the cross-country jaunt, downhill and slalom races and ski jumping.

Among the dozen or more schools expected in Berlin were the following: Laconia; Plymouth; Dover; Lebanon; St. Johnsbury Academy; Dow Academy; Spaulding High of Barre, Vt.; Edward Little of Auburn, Maine; Stephens High of Rumford, Maine; and others.

The first event on the the slate would be the cross-country run on Friday, starting and finishing at the Nansen Ski Club hut at the foot of the old jump, a distance of three miles. The downhill and slalom races would be taking place on what was then called Mount Cates and the battle for ski jumping would be on Saturday at the old jump on Paines Hill.

Coach Norman Haweeli's Berlin High Mountaineers winter sports boys were in excellent physical condition and ready to cope with whatever competition the best of the field had to offer. The Nansen Ski Club Inc. was the sponsor for this interscholastic ski championship, with Berlin High being host to the visiting clubs.

It was Don Henderson and Kenny Fysh who starred for the Mountaineers in this first meet of the season and Berlin became victorious over more than one half dozen great ski teams from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Second place went to Edward Little High School of Auburn, Maine.

Despite a broken thumb, Ken Fysh, skied the three and one half mile cross-country course in the fastest time of 30 minutes and 57 seconds, leading all competitors. The second place finisher was four minutes behind Fysh.

Topping the opposition in the downhill and slalom races was a great skier from Berlin, Donald Henderson. Don tied for first place in the downhill with a Lincoln High skier and beat this same competitor by a scant margin of 3 seconds in the slalom.

Henderson put the finishing touches to his sensational one-man performance by out jumping all of the rest of the field. Ken Fysh out jumped his teammate, but Henderson had the form on this day. Berlin had a grand total of 399.61 points out of 400.

At the end of January 1942, the two Berlin co-captains, copped three first places between them at a duel meet in Andover, Maine. The Granite Staters scored a grand total of 397.9 points. Others to get points for BHS this day were Paul Kailey and Downing Larson.

Fysh won two top awards, the ski jumping and the cross-country run. The red and black skiers also staged a landslide triumph in the slalom, winning four out of the first five places. It was another superb day for BHS winter sports.

If one of the co-captains didn't have a great day, the other one did and at a dual meet in Hebron, Maine it was Don Henderson's turn. This 1942 BHS skier captured three first places and a second-place award to lead on the Berlin High winter sports team to a victory over Hebron Academy. Their total points were 399.27.

Co-captain Henderson topped the field in the downhill event, the slalom race and in ski jumping, while Ken Fysh won first place in the cross-country. This gave coach Haweeli's warriors a clean sweep of all four first-place ribbons.

In winning the downhill race, Henderson shattered the course record by four seconds and Fysh's cross country win broke the old course record in Hebron by 20 seconds. Irving Collins and Norman Hansen made it 1-2-3-4 in the cross-country, with Henderson being second.

The Berlin High School Mountaineers successfully defended their New Hampshire Interscholastic Winter Sports Championship on March 7, 1942, by defeating a field of seven leading schoolboy teams. Mentor Haweeli's sensational skiers amassed a total of 355.84 points to take the field of competition. All seven teams had qualified to battle for honors in the New Hampshire championship, by winning their sectional contest, so each team was highly touted.

Berlin's 17-year-old sensation, Kenneth Fysh, was the star of this winter sports test when he won three first places for his team. He triumphed in the cross-country, downhill and ski jumping. Other Mountaineers who contributed points were Don Henderson, Paul Kailey, Russ Kenny, Lawrence Dupont and Downing Larson.

On March 14, 1942, for the second time in as many winters, the rampaging Berlin High skiers trimmed a field of 12 great schools from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to win the United States Eastern Amateur Ski Associate Interscholastic Championship. This was held during an exciting two-day meet at the Belknap Park Mountains recreational area in Laconia.

Led by co-captains Ken Fysh and Don Henderson again, the red and black snowbirds dropped Gould Academy of Bethel, Maine, from the ranks of the unbeaten to annex this special event. Haweeli's cohorts were forced to come from behind in the jumping, the last event on the day program to capture this prestigious event by a scant margin of 13.8 points.

The Mountaineers placed first in the slalom, second in the downhill, third in the cross-country and second in the jumping. Gould Academy had piled up a slight lead over the mountaineers in the first three events, but Berlin had a first, eighth and tenth in the jumping and Gould Academy could only garner number 12.

Again, Fysh was the outstanding skier of the tourney, as he won the jumping, placed fourth in the downhill, fifth in the slalom and fifth in the cross country. His teammate Don Henderson was right behind. How many skiers can do all of those events today and be winners? These young boys could surely ski.

Yes, the 1941-42 winter sports season proved to be a very successful one for the young skiers at Berlin High. They won five of six meets. They lost only to Gould Academy, their only loss in three years.

At Hanover, Berlin won the New Hampshire State Championship for the second consecutive time and the following weekend in Laconia, they came from behind to win the Eastern Interscholastic Ski Championship. They lost top skiers to graduation in this year, but the biggest loss of all was Coach Haweeli, who entered the service and World War II. I guess that during these years one could have referred to Berlin as “Ski Town USA.”

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comment email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.

Ski team 1942First row from the left, Downing Larson, Lawrence Dupont, Co-Captins Don Henderson and Ken Fysh, Paul Kailey and Bob Keough. Second row, Glen Eastman, Norman Hanson, Russell Kinney, Irving Collins and John Sheridan. Third row, Manager Andrew Monahan and Coach Norman Haweeli.

Henderson DonaldDonald Henderson

Haweeli NormanNorman Haweeli

Fysh KenKen Fysh