March 9th and 10th 2019
History of the Kandahar Festival
This piece was originally created as part of a Ski Racing Magazine article through the combined efforts of David Wenn, NSA Headmaster and Head Coach at Greek Peak in the early ’70s, and Paul VanSlyke, owner of Twitchell Sportswear.
Kandahar began in 1974. It is estimated there were about 80 racers the first year. Now we have over 600 racers and families each year who participate state-wide. It was created as an opportunity for kids who did not make state teams to continue racing throughout the season. The Kandahar name comes from the original sponsor of the race, Chip Armstrong. The name of the shop was Chip’s Kandahar in Cortland, NY.
Since the first year of this Jr III, IV, V race NYSSRA has sent a state team to Gunstock, NH for the Buddy Werner Championships – now called the Piche Invitational. Development level ski racers gather from all over the east to clinic together on Friday and race on Saturday in March. Fun is abundant at both our Kandahar Series and in Gunstock.
For years Kandahar was run at Greek Peak. These wonderful events were prior to sophisticated snow making equipment. No matter what, the Greek Peak Ski Club got this event off. The race has always been a two day event. Families from around the state became acquainted and all present pulled together to make it happen. This event has always embodied some of the best aspects of ski racing, including friendly, healthy competition in a fun, family atmosphere. The foundation of the original event was based on the idea of athlete development and outdoor fun. Kandahar continues to this day to promote the same purpose.
Kandahar was held at Greek Peak until about 1991 and then began to move around the state. It has been held at Brantling, Holimon, West Mtn, and Gore Mtn. Due to the huge success and participation of this event, the Kandahar became a regional festival event in 2002, with Kandahar Festivals being held in the eastern, central, and western regions of the state. The top finishers from each of the festival event then compete at a state-wide Kandahar Championship held at a different location each year.
Note: The history of the Kandahar dates back to the early 1900’s. Sir Henry Lunn organized what can be called the first formal Alpine Downhill in Switzerland in 1911. At stake was the Kandahar Trophy (donated by Lord Roberts of Kandahar, India). Sir Henry’s son, Arnold is credited with inventing the modern slalom in 1922 in a competition at Murren, Switzerland as well as with championing the push to include alpine skiing in the Winter Olympics. After a combines event at the 1936 Winter Olympics, Alpine Skiing emerged in its own right in the next Winter Games in 1948 with downhill and slalom events.