When Seth Wescott won his second Olympic gold medal in two tries two weeks ago, his friends and fellow Sugarloafers saluted the victory with a party at the restaurant and pub he co-owns.
This Saturday, the Carrabassett Valley resort that Wescott calls home will be bustling again, as its favorite son makes a triumphant homecoming.
Ethan Austin, the communications manager at Sugarloaf, said the resort will hold a celebration of Wescott’s Olympic success on Saturday.
“The actual public event is going to start at 1 p.m., out on the beach,” Austin said, referring to the flat area just above the base lodge. “Seth’s going to address the crowd, the governor’s going to be there. Our general manager [John Diller] is going to be there.”
At 2 p.m., Wescott will hold an autograph session for fans.
Austin said the format will be similar to the one the resort followed after Wescott won a gold medal in snowboard cross at the 2006 Torino Olympics.
There will, however, be one not-so-subtle change.
“Seth is going to make a grand entrance, which is something we’re going to keep under wraps for right now,” said Austin, who would only hint that the snowboarder’s arrival would be worth seeing.
Austin said the outpouring of support for the returning Olympian four years ago was incredible.
“[The crowd] was huge, probably 2,000 or 3,000 people,” Austin said. “We’re expecting to see something similar this year.”
If you’re interested in attending, you don’t have to be a skier or a snowboarder. A note to first-time visitors: You might have to park a few hundred yards from the base lodge, but don’t fret (and don’t worry about hiking up the access road to the festivities). Sugarloaf shuttle buses make regular loops through the parking lots, and drivers will drop you off at the lodge.
Snow, snow, snow
If you’re still looking for another reason to head to Sugarloaf for the Wescott victory celebration, I’ve got one for you: Snow.
While many of us have been dealing with rain for the past several days, Sugarloaf has been getting pounded with “white gold”.
“It’s crazy. It’s been a heck of a six days, for sure,” Austin said. “Our total snowfall since last Wednesday is 64 inches.”
That’s right. Sixty-four inches.
Austin said the sustained snowfall may not be unprecedented, but it is noteworthy.
“The [storm] that I’ve been comparing it to was in 2007, when we had that big April snow,” Austin said. “We picked up 90 inches of snow in April, and we had a pretty similar event to this where it snowed pretty much for four days straight.”
On Monday afternoon, Austin said it wasn’t snowing at Sugarloaf … at the moment. But he knew better than to expect that the storm was over.
“We haven’t had a period of more than two or three hours since last Wednesday when it hasn’t been snowing or doing something,” Austin said.
And the conditions? As you might guess, Austin’s not complaining a bit.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible. We have the entire mountain, aside from the backside snowfields, open. The [front-side] snowfields are in better condition than I’ve ever seen them. Every trail is just buried in perfect snow.”
There are a few Sugarloaf employees who probably wouldn’t mind if the snow stopped for a bit, Austin admitted.
“It’s definitely taxing, not only on the grooming crew, but on the rest of our maintenance crews as well,” Austin said. “People have been shoveling since last Wednesday. Plowing crews have been out.”
Coming up …
Over the weekend I visited the Penobscot Fly Fishers’ Cabin Fever Reliever, a small-scale outdoor show that is held annually in Brewer.
I didn’t think I was working, mind you. I just wanted to … well … relieve my cabin fever.
As it turns out, I succeeded on that count, and even ended up finding some column fodder while roaming the aisles and talking to exhibitors.
Jax and Tait McKay of Winterport and Sam Kenney of Dixmont were among the exhibitors, and are among the many reasons the Cabin Fever Reliever was a hit again this year.
The McKay brothers are movie stars now, having been featured in a pair of regional fishing flicks, and Kenney was recently featured in a national magazine.
None of the three, by the way, have reached their teens.
Later this week I’ll tell you more about the show, and will reintroduce you to three young fly-tiers who are serious about their craft.