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Funded by Libra Foundation, the Maine Winter Sports Center fulfilled the vision of Andy Shepard and Max Cobb, with a mission statement of “creating a model for the sustainability of rural communities through a skiing lifestyle.”

Ms. Anderson, co-owner of a general store in Stockholm, credits the Maine Winter Sports Center and Libra Foundation for rescuing Aroostook after the closing of Loring Air Force Base in 1994.

The Maine Winter Sports Center built a biathlon lodge and stadium called the 10th Mountain Center in Fort Kent in 1999, and provided snow-grooming equipment to ski clubs and expertise in laying out trails. It began a rental program to give parents a low-cost alternative to buying skis for their children. Soon there was a second skiing venue, the Nordic Heritage Center, in Presque Isle.

“You get kids going early and it just becomes part of how they move,” said Michael Smith, director of healthy hometowns for the Maine Winter Sports Center.

On a recent 15-degree day, more than a dozen miles from Mr. Smith’s office, third- and fourth-graders at the New Sweden Consolidated School grabbed skis from a rack and headed outside for physical education class. First- and second-graders, part of an after-school program, joined them on skis.

The youngsters raced along a groomed trail that looped behind the playground, all smiles even when they took an occasional spill. Hooting, hollering and horseplay are typical, and sometimes they engage in a game similar to tag. Teachers make sure they’re having fun.

Laurie Spooner, the school’s principal, said there’s no data to quantify the healthful benefits of the skiing program, but there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest it’s good for children and educators alike. “We don’t have as many disciplinary issues on the days the kids ski,” she said.

“They seem to have more energy, more focus as far as learning, if they have the opportunity to be active,” said Ernie Easter, who coaches the middle school ski team.

The school provides cross-country skis for use at school for third- through sixth-graders and offers rental skis, at $55 for the season, for other children. Everyone has access, regardless of ability to pay.