June 21, 2018
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Ski areas up and running

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Most of us haven’t seen much snow this November, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some early skiing available for those who simply can’t wait to hit the slopes. Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley officially opened for the season Sunday, Nov. 21. Sunday River in Newry was the first in the Northeast to open and provides another skiing option.

Sugarloaf’s communications manager, Ethan Austin, said his resort had hoped for an earlier opening, but conditions weren’t favorable for making snow.

“We originally targeted [Nov. 19] but the weather didn’t quite cooperate,” Austin said. “We were technically two days late, but we were pretty happy with that date anyway.”

Austin said that as temperatures dropped, the resort’s snow-making team took advantage of the weather and started applying a winter coat to the Sugarloaf slopes.

“At our peak we had about 150 [snow guns] going, and those were all on Tote Road or Hayburner. Primarily on Tote Road,” Austin said. “We didn’t get any good temperatures until last Thursday night, which is when we were really able to crank everything up. It stayed pretty good through late Sunday, so we were ready to make snow straight through until then. It was a pretty good opening. The skiing was really good. We heard a lot of good comments.”

Austin said the skiers that show up on opening day all share the same mindset.

“They’re really your core Sugarloafers. We definitely see much more of a local crowd out for opening day, much more of a diehard crowd, [the same] people who we see here on closing day as well,” Austin said. “These are people that have the attitude that any skiing beats no skiing. A day on the hill is better than a day at work.”

On Tuesday Austin said that the resort planned an ambitious week of snowmaking and hoped to add trails for this weekend. As of Tuesday, Sugarloaf listed base depths of 8 to 16 inches on the trails that were open.

“We’ll probably be back in snowmaking temperatures [Tuesday] at about midnight and it looks like that will hold until about Friday,” he said. “So we’re hoping to get Hayburner and Candy Side open in the next couple of days, and then we’re going to move the snowmaking over to Narrow Gauge, Sluice and Lower Winter’s Way. Whether or not we get all of that for the weekend, it’s hard to say right now, but we should at least have a couple of other trails open for this weekend.”

And skiers who decide to head to Sugarloaf can assure themselves of a good deal on lift tickets, Austin pointed out. The resort is holding its 26th annual Tin Mountain Roundup today and Sunday.

“Anybody who brings in three or more cans of food to donate receives a discounted lift ticket,” Austin said. “That [price] will be $30.”

Sunday River in Newry was the first ski area in the state to open for business. According to the Sunday River website, on Wednesday the resort had 11 open trails that were being serviced by three lifts.

In addition, cross-country ski enthusiasts can find groomed trails at Bigrock Ski Area in Mars Hill. Aroostook County received a bit of snow recently and the snow-making crew had supplemented that. The result: a 12- to 24-inch base of snow on a 1.5-kilometer loop at the base of the area’s Alpine trails. A day pass to access the loop costs $10.

“Making snow, and providing a high-quality skiing suface and skiing experience, are areas in which the pride in our work really shows,” Mark Shea, Bigrock’s marketing manager said in a press release. “With a solid base, we can withstand whatever weather comes our way this week.”

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