Western Maine ski resorts prepare for season

A bus takes Carrabassett Valley Academy skiers and snowboarders to Sugarloaf ski resort in February 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty
A bus takes Carrabassett Valley Academy skiers and snowboarders to Sugarloaf ski resort in February 2012. Buy Photo
Posted Oct. 29, 2012, at 9:20 a.m.

RUMFORD, Maine — Ski resorts in western Maine are undergoing renovations and upgrading equipment in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Sunday River in Newry is planning to invest $1 million to install 300 new energy-efficient snow guns that use up to 90 percent less compressed air than the old ones, according to a news release from Ski Maine Association.

Darcy Morse, director of communications at Sunday River, said Sunday River will open “as early as possible.” She said a snow-making test was done Oct. 13, but the temperatures were a little too high to warrant making more.

Sunday River will also open a one-mile Kids Adventure Trail from the mid-mountain Peak Lodge to the South Ridge base area, the release said.

Sugarloaf in Carrabasset Valley will also add 300 new snow guns, new snow-making pipes and an upgraded valve station to improve efficiency.

The upgrades are part of the resort’s “Sugarloaf 2020″ development plan, according to Sugarloaf’s website. Ethan Austin, communications manager at Sugarloaf, described it as a “10-year development plan, with a focus on terrain expansion, infrastructure improvement and other areas.”

Austin said the resort has set Nov. 16 as its tentative opening day.

“Of course, this is all dependent on the weather,” he said. “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll start making snow a week before we open.”

Sugarloaf and Sunday River are owned by Michigan-based Boyne Resorts.

Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford has added two new fan guns, a new snow-making pump, pipes and electric service to the summit to power the new guns. In addition, it is expanding the Last Run Lounge to make room for the Last Run Sports Pub, which will have more seating and a big-screen television.

Shawnee Peak, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is hoping to open by Dec. 15. The ski mountain in Bridgton has installed a freestyle air bag at the base of the peak, which allows skiers and snowboarders to practice freestyle tricks without the fear of being injured. Shawnee will also add more space for beginning skiers and snowboarders to learn.

Saddleback in Rangeley plans to open Dec. 15. It has expanded its freestyle and terrain park, and the terrain designated for beginners.

Mt. Abram ski resort in Greenwood is upgrading its snow-making pump to increase the water capacity for the low-energy snow guns installed last winter. The news release said snow tubing will return to the resort Saturday nights and on select holidays for those 10 years old or younger. The mountain is scheduled to open Dec. 15, according to Mt. Abram’s website.

Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine Association, said there are high hopes for a productive winter.

“The long-range forecast indicates a return to normal temperatures and above normal snow” totals, Sweetser said.

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