Minding Quechee’s Ski and Hiking Trails: Dave Courtney
Dave Courtney is a sitting member of the board of trustees
for the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association (QLLA). The long and diverse
relationship Dave has with the area will explain why so many readers recognize
his name. Dave grew up outside of Boston. It was his Merrimack College Ski Team
that led him to visit the area, and eventually settle here. Coming from
Andover, MA, the Merrimack team trained at Killington and Suicide Six while
staying in Woodstock. After graduating and spending a year as a ‘ski bum’ out
west, Dave moved to Ludlow with a friend in the mid-1970s.
Dave graduated from Merrimack with a degree in History and obtained a teaching certificate, working as a high school history teacher for a short time. But in the end, skiing won. Dave worked for the Woodstock Corporation at the golf course, and the Mount Tom Ski Area while it was still open per the personal preference of Mrs. Rockefeller who came there to ski once a year. Dave would rotate between Mount Tom and Suicide Six as a paid ski patroller. When Mount Tom closed in 1978, Dave took a job as the assistant ski patrol director at Okemo Mountain, working there for about six years.
Coming to Quechee
Dave and the Quechee Ski Hill have a lot of history. In 1986, he became the ski patrol director, the same year that Quechee started making snow. Dave and his wife, Claire, worked together on the Quechee Ski Hill before they married. Their son Jim is an instructor at the ski school, and son Will was a member of the Quechee Alpine Ski Club (aka the Quechee Ski Team), and even coached the team after college. Will has instructed all over the world, and currently works for Fischer Skis.
The Quechee Ski Team evolved from his father’s work. While working the ski patrol in the early 1990s, Dave and his crew started setting up racecourses on the hill. The courses started casually, just for fun, but the endeavor evolved into the ski team. At first, the ski crew would invite club members to run the courses every Saturday. Dave and his crew would collect a dollar from participants and use the ‘donations’ at the clubhouse for the ski patrol and volunteers to have a drink at the end of the day. He says that a number of local families wanted their kids to be more involved and they helped him establish a formal team. With the team expanding each year, Dave recognized the opportunity to expand the team’s racing options and requested a place in the Vermont Alpine Racing Association. The Quechee team became part of the Mid-Vermont Council around 1994 and still competes in that council today.
Board of trustees’ involvement
Five years ago, Dave, was elected to the QLLA board of trustees. Dave felt that after 30 years of experience in the area, he would bring a different experience and historical perspective to the board. Dave has owned, built, sold, and renovated properties in the area, not to mention, his involvement with the ski hill.
Of his work on the board, Dave is most recently excited about the Trails and Greenbelt Committee (learn more about the committees work in Ron Dull’s feature Trails Are Coming in this issue’s cover article). Every five years or so, the board conducts a members survey to determine member satisfaction and ideas for improvement; the Trails Committee is a direct outgrowth of those results. Dave is the chairman of the Trail Committee and hopes to include an emphasis on the use of the greenbelt as well. The committee has plans to develop new trails and maintain the existing trails, including the well-known ‘Section 5,’ which is 780 acres belonging to QLLA which includes old logging trails.
While the committee has met only a few times and are still creating their plan, they will present information to the community on June 3 – National Trails Day. The goal is to have a new trail planned and begin to create it this summer. The Quechee Trails Club is open to volunteers to get out there and help with the trail work this summer. If you want to get involved, and you don’t know Dave, just ask a few of your friends. Someone will tell you how to get in touch – he’s usually around here somewhere.