Russell Spring - Nordic Center Founder

Passing Date

Russell Mason Spring Jr. passed away July 30 at age 92. With his wife Janet, Spring founded the Craftsbury (Vermont) Outdoor Center, one of the most successful nordic training facilities in North America.

“Sparky” Spring grew up skiing in Wellesley, Massachusetts and graduated from Lenox High School. He joined the U.S. Navy in the closing days of World War II, then attended Yale on the G.I. Bill. Graduating in 1950, he joined the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Displaced Persons. He worked in Austria resettling refugees—and skiing.

Russell returned to the U.S. in 1953 to help raise his younger siblings, Jim and Debbie. Jim Spring grew up to edit SKI Business magazine and launch the market research firm Leisure Trends Group. 

Spring began teaching skiing at Stowe, and married fellow instructor Janet Lauderdale. They had three children, and to support the family, in 1963 Spring went to work as a stockbroker in Burlington, Vermont. The family moved to Craftsbury, Vermont in 1972, where they founded the Windridge Tennis Camp and turned the Cutler Academy campus into a nordic trail system. Soon the center also hosted training programs for runners and scullers. Over the decades, the center has taught hundreds of local kids to ski and today is the home of an elite training center that sent three athletes to the 2014 Winter Games. It’s also a popular destination for recreational cross-country skiers.

In 2008 Russell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia. The couple sold the Outdoor Center but continued to live on the site. Janet died in 2016. —S.M.