By: Jessica O'Hare

olympic medalWe’ve cheered on a strong showing of Northern Forest athletes in PyeongChang at the Winter Olympic Games. It’s hard to track down exact numbers, but if you count hometowns, training locations and other connections to the Northern Forest, it's clear that the region turns out great athletes.

We’ve got Chris Mazdzer, Erin Hamlin, Justin Krewson and Erin Sweeney from upstate New York competing in the luge. Troy Murphy competed in freestyle skiing, after Bethel, Maine residents, schools and businesses fundraised to get their hometown hero to the Games. Mikeala Shiffrin, who learned her downhill racing technique at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, took home the gold medal in giant slalom. Susan Dunklee from Vermont and Lowell Bailey from Lake Placid, NY competed for medals in the biathlon. Sophie Caldwell from Vermont competed on the women’s cross-country events. There are more incredible athletes to list, but you can see what we mean. 

The Northern Forest has great mountains and world-class training venues, like Lake Placid, NY—host of the 1980 Olympics—Fort Kent (Maine) Outdoor Center, and Craftsbury (VT) Outdoor Center, and ski schools like Burke Mountain and Stratton Mountain School that draw premiere young athletes. Winter is part of life in the Northern Forest, so it makes sense that that people here love to ski, skate and sled, competitively or just for fun. Our easy access to recreational opportunities contributes to our quality of life. 

Karen Crouse of the New York Times, joined a Vermont radio show and offered: "You move to Norwich[, VT], because you don't need the big urban center, you love the outdoors." She argues that a collective value system builds a philosophy that is based in sports, and forms lasting friendships and a love of the game. "It's about life lessons and skill sets that will help you in your life after sports," she said.

That rationale applies to Northern Forest communities from Lake Placid to Aroostook County. Plattsburgh, NY; Canton, NY; Bethel, ME; Burke, VT are all hometowns of current Olympians, 20 of whom list communities in the states of the Northern Forest as their hometowns. 36 if you count all of New York state.  

We think the region’s wide-ranging outdoor opportunities—summer and winter—make it a great place to raise a family or achieve that elusive work-life balance. We’re working with several communities to help them make the most of their outdoor attractions and establish themselves as vibrant communities for young families and entrepreneurs who want that lifestyle.  

Cross-country skiing through the woods on your lunch break sounds pretty good to us. And who knows, you might see a few Olympic racers while you’re out there!