SKOWHEGAN — Two-time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott was mobbed by third- and fourth-grade children Thursday morning after a slide show from his recent snowboard trek to Antarctica.

Are you scared of avalanches? Was it cold? How old are you? When did you start snowboarding? Do you enjoy nature?

“I just love nature; ever since I was a little kid I wanted to play outside,” Wescott, who won gold medals in snowboardcross, told the kids.

Playing outside was what it was all about Thursday for the 375 children in grades one through four at Bloomfield Elementary School, who were treated to the Wescott show-and-tell as well as hours of outdoor activities.

The children marveled at pictures of snowy glaciers and icebergs at the southernmost tip of the planet. They laughed at pictures of waddling penguins who were clumsy on land, but graceful in the water.

“That’s so cool,” one child could be heard saying from the audience to pictures of petrel birds, rugged mountains, big sleepy seals and Wescott snowboarding down steep, icy mountains in Antarctica, the world’s coldest, driest and windiest continent.

The day’s events were sponsored by Winter Kids, a statewide nonprofit program to help children develop healthy lifelong habits through outdoor winter activity. Wescott is the program’s spokesperson, said Julie Mulkern, executive director of Winter Kids.

“Seth has always wanted to give school talks,” she said. “What’s great about this area particularly is for about seven years now, Winter Kids has been working in every elementary school in Skowhegan with New Balance Foundation funding.”

Wescott said he has been involved with Winter Kids since the fall of 2004 when a fellow Sugarloafer approached him to be the program’s spokesman.

“It just made sense to me that his nonprofit was doing all this work trying to get kids involved in winter sports,” he said. “The last couple years they’ve gotten up to 10,000 kids on ski hills in Maine; kids who wouldn’t be able to afford to do it otherwise.”

Wescott, 35, of Carrabassett Valley, is home this month recovering from surgery for a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during the Snowboardcross World Cup Jan. 19 in Veysonnaz, Switzerland.

Wescott said he is undergoing physical therapy in Farmington.

Wescott also Thursday spoke publicly for the first time about a February arrest warrant in connection with misdemeanor criminal charges of failure to pay thousands of dollars in state income taxes over a five-year period. The charges were dropped the day after the issue was reported in the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, when Wescott went to court with an attorney, and an agreement was made with the Maine Revenue Service and the issue was resolved.

Wescott said Thursday the taxes and fines for filing late had all been paid by the time the issue became public. He called it a misunderstanding and a nonissue.

“They had actually been paid in November,” he said. “They assessed me with a bill and I paid it in full, actually two days before going on this trip” to Antarctica.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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