Maine ski areas had busy summer

Posted Sept. 29, 2013, at 6:16 a.m.

This summer, the ski mountains were rocking.

Sunday River invested $5.7 million in projects like a new 30-acre terrain park trail (for the daring, there’s an 18-foot super pipe). The resort also installed 224 energy-efficient snow guns that can operate at slightly higher temps.

It’ll soon close Legends to make way for a new restaurant twice the size called Camp, according to spokeswoman Darcy Morse.

The resort also cleared 60 acres of new or expanded glades, securing a new record: 820 skiable acres, second-most in New England only behind sister resort Sugarloaf.

Sugarloaf has roughly 1,153 skiable acres. With more than a half-million skier visits last winter, Sunday River had been third behind Killington in Vermont.

The goal at Sunday River: To open on or before Halloween.

“So far, sales indicate that people are really excited for the winter ahead,” Morse said.

Sugarloaf tackled $2.9 million in new projects, including 150 energy-efficient snow guns and a quarter-million-dollar, 30-person hot tub outside the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel.

“It’s a big thing for a hotel property to have a water element like that,” spokesman Ethan Austin said. “It sort of takes a lodging property to a new level.”

This week, workers were still cutting terrain and opening more glades on Burnt Mountain.

Sugarloaf hopes to open Nov. 16.

How to follow up a record-breaking year there for sales and skiers?

“Hopefully with a lot of snow,” Austin said. “People have really good memories from last year so they book their vacations early. Our numbers right now are looking great.”

Saddleback has added a new, more efficient PistenBully groomer to its fleet and made general improvements grading and widening some trails, said JoAnne Taylor, director of marketing and communication.

That resort also continued condominium construction and built a new road for improved access to Saddleback Lake. It’s shooting for a Dec. 21 opening or sooner if weather allows.

Meanwhile, Mt. Abram carved out a new tubing park next to the main lodge after two seasons without tubing, expanded snow making and hired a new head coach to revamp the racing program, according to Jamie Schectman, director of marketing and community development.

Mt. Abram hopes to open Dec. 14 for season pass holders and Dec. 15 to the general public.

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