Storrs Hill is a recreational gem in the city of Lebanon and at the heart of the Upper Valley. Few towns have a groomed ski area right in their downtown that is accessible to all. There are hundreds of kids that wouldn't ski at all -- who might not have anything to do on a cold winter day -- if it weren't for Storrs Hill and the Lebanon Outing Club.
In 1923, a Norwegian immigrant named Erling Heisted came to Lebanon. His vision was that every child in Lebanon Center should be within walking distance of a ski jump so everyone would have an outdoor activity in the snow.
The city decided, in 1986, that it couldn't run the ski area any more, because of the phenomenal cost of employing full-time staff to run the lift, do the grooming, coordinate the ski program, and run the concession.
With a generous endowment given by Carter Witherall, the Lebanon Outing Club agreed to operate the area, on the theory that there would be enough volunteers who love Storrs Hill to handle operations. For the past 15 years, that partnership has worked.
In 2002, the Olympic torch passed through the Upper Valley. Followed by a procession of 50 youth skiers down Storrs Hill, the torch was then carried off the 25-meter jump through the "Hoop of Fire." The event was witnessed by several thousand people.
Over the years, Storrs Hill has become a center for race team training in the Upper Valley and also provides night skiing. In 2002, youth teams training at Storrs Hill included: Kimball Union Academy, Lebanon, Hanover, and Hartford High Schools, as well as the LOC club team.
Storrs Hill is the only year-round Nordic ski jumping training facility in New England; indeed, New Hampshire is the last remaining state in the country in which ski jumping is an inter-scholastic sport. Several Olympic jumpers have trained over the years on our 10-, 25-, and 50-meter jumps. Former LOC jumper Brian Welch competed in the 2002 Olympics.
The lesson program has always been a big part of Storrs Hill. The LOC offers lessons three nights a week along with a Saturday morning program for children three to six years old.
To operate the ski area, the LOC employees a full-time hill manager and a part-time assistant hill manager but, aside from those two positions, the vast majority of staff is filled with volunteer help. Lift attendants, ski instructors, ski patrol, and kitchen helpers are all volunteers. This arrangement allows the ski area to be operated in an extremely efficient, cost-effective manner.