How Vermont Sports Started
My inspiration for Vermont Sports came from several places—the need for a job (I had been a ski resort photographer), the desire to work for myself and create something worthwhile, and the belief that Vermont’s outdoor sports enthusiasts would support this type of publication. When I lived in Colorado from 1980 to 1986, I read the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Sports & Fitness from cover to cover every month, and well after I moved to Vermont, it was my template.
The first issue of Vermont Sports Monthly was July 1990, and featured the Burlington Criterium bicycle race on the cover. Over the years the criterium evolved into the Green Mountain Stage Race, organized by race director Gary Kessler of Fayston. This past September would have been its 20th anniversary. Hopefully it will return in 2021.
Vermont hosted many other high-profile races that Vermont Sports featured: Bud Light Triathlon in 1991; Vermont City Marathon, which started in 1989, the Craftsbury Marathon cross-country race; the Vermont 50 Mountain Bike or Ultra-Run; the 100 on 100 team running race; and so many more national and local events. Vermont’s active outdoor sports climate gave me confidence that the magazine would succeed.
But it wasn’t just about racing. The magazine was always about the people who participated, the people who made the sports happen. So many people believed in the magazine and were eager to be a part of it in some way, from writers and photographers, to readers and advertisers, to the businesses where anyone could pick up a free copy.
I was fortunate to have a stable of talented writers and photographers. Vermont Sports was a springboard for many who went on to noteworthy careers. Berne Broudy, writer, photographer, and adventurer, was always ready with an interesting article about gear. I could always count on writer/photographer Brian Mohr to deliver exciting photos and stories. Cross-country skier John Morton participated as an athlete, coach, and team leader in seven Olympic Games for the United States in the biathlon event. He could write endlessly about his skiing (and human experiences, in general) and must have contributed over 100 articles to Vermont Sports. Phyl Newbeck wrote the Reader Athlete column. She still does, today.
We went digital in 1996 and in 2001 we printed our first four-color cover photo. Still printed on newsprint, it took the magazine to another level.
Over time, it became my goal to sell the magazine before I turned 50. When I was 47, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Chris Blau. Blau bought the magazine in 2001 and brought graphic artist/designer Shawn Braley to the production team. Shawn has stayed with the magazine through its changes in ownership, and continues to be the publication’s designer. When Blau sold the magazine in 2010 to Sky Barsch, it was time for me to move on.
In 2013, newspaper publisher Angelo Lynn, bought the magazine from Barsch. it’s been pleasantly satisfying to see that what began as a venture into the unknown, in such capable hands. He and his wife, editor/co-publisher Lisa Lynn also also own Vermont Ski + Ride magazine and the Addison County Independent weekly newspaper, so Vermont Sports fits right into their quiver of local home-grown publications.
One of my favorite stories to come out of my ownership of Vermont Sports involves Belle McDougall, who was featured on the cover of the February 1998 issue, backcountry skiing at Bolton Valley Resort. Belle could ski like an eagle could fly. She also made a great Reader Athlete interview—so great that she got a couple of hits from single men.
One of those men was Duncan McDougall, who set about courting Belle. Two years later they wed, and soon they had Jesse, who is now a sophomore at the University of Toronto. It’s a wonderful, happy-ending story that I still enjoy telling, and it never would have happened without Vermont Sports.