INside the OUTside: Sugarloaf, Sunday River making plans for early snow season

It won’t be long before the snow guns come alive and cover the slopes of Sugarloaf, Sunday River and other ski trails in Maine. (File photo by Dan Cassidy)

by Dan Cassidy

It’s been quite a warm summer overall and I was just reading a couple articles from our local ski areas in western Maine. Now I’m sure you remember how really hot and humid it has been over the past couple of months … but you may have forgotten the winter we endured last season. Let me remind you … it wasn’t only “cold” … it was downright freezing, along with more snow than we’ve had over the past couple years … beginning in early December, right into mid-May! Kind of forgot that didn’t you!

Well, as mentioned, a couple of the reports from our ski resorts are calling for an early beginning, hopefully the making of another great season!

While Sugarloaf and Sunday River had a great summer of golfing, fat biking, hiking Appalachian trails or visiting the Maine Huts and Trails, canoeing and riding some of the zip line runs, vacation days are coming to an end. I recently heard that the two Maine resorts are aiming to begin snowmaking in less than 100 days, give or take!? WoW!

Sunday River is one of Maine’s largest and most visited ski slopes in the east. The mountain is spread across 870 accessible acres that spreads across eight interconnected trails. We’ll keep you posted on new equipment, trails and events as snow season gets closer.

Maine Ski Hall of Fame Induction ceremony scheduled

The Maine Ski Hall of Fame is planning their 16th annual induction dinner Saturday, October 27th at the Grand Summit Hotel at Sunday River Resort beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The induction ceremony includes seven members to the Class of 2018. They are Karen Colburn, Leon Akers, Anne Dowling, Norman Libby, David Stonebraker, Kristina Sabasteanski and Warren Cook.

Reservations can be made by contacting Ski Maine Association at (207) 699-3121, or visit www.skimaine.com/hof. Dinner tickets are $65.00 per person. Special lodging rates are also available.

Get ready and get going!

For now, there are several things you can do to be ready for opening day. First, get moving and get into shape, get your skis out of storage, get them tuned and waxed, get those boots out and clean them up.

Some weather reports are indicating that we’re due for an early start to the winter, with ample snow before the Christmas holidays. It’s closer than you think!

INside the OUTside: Maine ski resorts gearing up for the new season

Quarry Road racers from Bowdoin College on the 4.8 Km Nordic course. Photo by Dan Cassidy

Dan Cassidyby Dan Cassidy

Sugarloaf making plans for snow season

It’s been quite a warm summer overall and I was just reading a couple articles from our local ski areas in western Maine. Now I’m sure you remember how really hot and humid it has been over the past couple of months … but you may have forgotten the winter we endured last season. Let me remind you … it wasn’t only “cold” … it was downright freezing, along with more snow than we’ve had over the past couple years … beginning in early December, right into mid-May! Kind of forgot that didn’t you!

Well, as mentioned, a couple of the reports from our ski resorts are calling for an early beginning, hopefully the making of another great season!

While Sugarloaf and Sunday River are having a great summer of golfing, fat biking, hiking Appalachian trails or Maine Huts and Trails, canoeing and riding some of the zip line runs, vacation days are coming to an end. I recently heard that the two Maine resorts are aiming to begin snowmaking in about 100 days, give or take!? WoW!

Now is the time to take advantage of some special ski promotions that include Kids Ski Free at Sugarloaf Mountain. Book any ski and stay package of two or more nights by September 12, and Sugarloaf will throw in free lift tickets* for your kids 12 years and under. *Limit one free child ticket per paying adult.

Also, if you act now and buy online, you can save up to 30 percent on select days this season. Now is the time to act. Check out info@news.sugarlaof.com.

Sunday River getting ready for winter snow season

If you book a ski and stay package at Sunday River by October 15, you will be guaranteed the best price of the winter. You can buy online at sundayriver.com; call the resort at 1-800 543-2754.

The savings are valid for new reservations during the 2018-2019 winter season and cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions, according to their website.

Sunday River, located in Newry, is one of Maine’s largest and most visited ski slopes in the east. The mountain is spread across 870 accessible acres that spreads across eight interconnected trails. We’ll keep you posted on new equipment, trails and events as snow season gets closer.

For now, there are several things you can do to be ready for opening day. First, get moving and get in shape, get your skis out of storage, get them tuned and waxed, get those boots out and clean them up.

Some weather reports are indicating that we’re due for an early start to the winter, with ample snow before the Christmas holidays. It’s closer than you think!

INside the OUTside: Ski dumping grounds at area ski resorts

Skis and poles spread out all over the snow while the owners take a hot chocolate break. Photo by Dan Cassidy

by Dan Cassidy

This has been an up and down year for skiers and riders so far. It began with great snow and weather conditions, then rain and freezing temps made conditions challenging for snowmakers and groomers.

All in all, Maine ski resorts have found ways to make the best snow and the grooming has been about as good as it gets.

I’ve noticed in my travels this season how many skiers and riders seem to just plop their skis, poles and snowboards down on the snow as they head into a lodge for a hot chocolate or a bite to eat.

Skis and snowboards don’t come cheap these days and I’m amazed at just how people seem oblivious as they just walk over and around equipment just abandoned on the snow.

I especially wonder how people who rent skis and poles find them if they’re mixed in with other skier’s and rider’s equipment.

Skiing recently with two colleagues from New York State, they were amazed at seeing the yard-sale appearance of all the equipment just lying around. They told me that equipment is not left around at their ski areas.

I noticed that some skier’s and riders coming in for a break have skied right over skis and poles left on the snow. That not only damages the abandoned skis, but the ones that are skiing over them.

As for the ski racks that are placed nearby, in most cases were more than half empty.

Ski and ride safely. Use your head and don’t forget to wear a helmet.

INside the OUTside: Quarry Road celebrates opening day

Quarry Road racers from Bowdoin College on the 4.8 Km Nordic course. Photo by Dan Cassidy

Dan CassidyINside the OUTside

by Dan Cassidy

Friends of Quarry Road, in Waterville, held its Opening Day Dedication of the Harold Alfond Snowmaking Center and Donor Recognition Sunday. Races for kids and men and women were held for Middle School races on 2.4 km, and all others over a 4.8 km course.

Several teams competed in Nordic race events that included Colby, Gould Academy, Bowdoin, Farmington Ski Club, University of Maine Farmington, and the Local Maine Ski Club. A group also came from Concord, New Hampshire.

The celebration was a way of thanking all of the people and organizations that helped make up the Quarry Road Trails.

Ski Free Days

The Quarry Road Trails are offering Community Ski Free Days. Save these dates, Saturday, January 16, Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, February 18, 2018. For additional information, e-mail quarryroad.org or call 207-680-4744.

After School Ski Programs

The Central Maine Ski Club is offering a learn to cross-country ski program to acquire ski skills, build fitness and have fun in the snow.

The program begins January 3 to February, 15, 2018, and will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For additional information log onto centralmaineskiclub.org or call 207-4467356.

It’s time to get out and play in the snow and enjoy the winter outdoors.

Sugarloaf to launch Cat-skiing to Burnt Mountain

Sugarloaf’s Bracket Basin glade skiing will get lift service by two snow cats this season. Photo by Jamie Walter courtesy of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Dan CassidyINside the OUTside

by Dan Cassidy

There’s a new “Cat” coming to ski country, and it’s coming to Sugarloaf’s Burnt Mountain. It’s the first cat-skiing service in Maine and one of very few east of the Rockies.

The announcement was made recently by Noelle Tuttle, Communications Manager at Sugarloaf. The resort has purchased a new 12 passenger snow cat that will work along with an existing 12-passenger cat to transport skiers and riders to the top of the Androscoggin Glade from the Log Yard located at the bottom terminal of the King Pine chairlift.

Glade cutting crews have been busy this summer working to develop a designated cat road and clear a new glade on Burnt Mountain that will add 100 acres of newly-developed terrain to explore.

According to the announcement, Burnt Mountain and the Androscoggin Glade have been accessible to skiers and riders willing to hike or skin.

“Since its opening, our side country terrain has become a fan favorite among Sugarloafers,” said Crusher Wilkinson, Sugarloaf Vice President of Mountain Operations. “The new Burnt Mountain Cat Skiing will not only enhance the skiing and riding experience, but also make the terrain more accessible to our guests.”

Burnt Mountain cat rides will be offered on weekends and vacation weeks only, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The two passenger cats will rotate shuttling skiers and riders every 20 minutes, and guests will be able reserve their seat online in advance.

Riding and skiing at Burnt Mountain is recommending for experts, according to the press release. Anyone unfamiliar with the Burnt Mountain terrain is encouraged to visit Ski Patrol at the top of the Androscoggin Glade for more information.

The 2020 Ten-Year map outlines the resort’s ten-year vision for development. Since the vision was first unveiled in 2010, the resort has seen numerous upgrades and improvements, said Noelle Tuttle, in a press release. The resort has added more than 600 acres of new terrain, a new quad chairlift, massive upgrades to its snowmaking system and lift infrastructure, as well as various village enhancements and upgraded facilities throughout the resort.

It’s time to get into shape, as the snow Gods will be with us soon. And while you’re working out, it’s also time to get your ski/snowboard gear tuned up and ready to hit the slopes.

Sunday River Mountain Park ready to open for the summer season

Dan CassidyINside the OUTside

by Dan Cassidy

Get set for an exciting summer at Sunday River’s Mountain Park that opens tomorrow, June 29. There are electronic bike rentals, new hiking terrain, and an 18-hole alpine disc golf course that tops the list of many new and exciting things to do this summer.

Mountain biking at Sunday River Park.
Internet photo

Mountain biking

You’ll find biking on 20 miles of downhill mountain terrain, a six-line Zip Line tour, a climbing wall and bungee trampoline along with scenic lift rides to the top of North Peak. There’s plenty to do this vacation if you’re ready for excitement. Resort guests can plan their weekend trip to the Mountain Park according to a press release by Darcy Lambert, Communications Director at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.

River Rock Festival and more

Along with all the exciting events, make plans to check out the festivals on July 8 and 9, the Tough Mountain Challenge on July 29, the new Maine Brew Fest on September 8-10 and the annual North American Wife Carrying Championship scheduled for October 7. The fun continues from late June right into the Columbus Day weekend.

According to Lambert, midweek guests to Sunday River can also register for Outdoor Discovery School clinics and classes through the resort’s partnership with L.L.Bean. “With an Outdoor Discovery School located right at Sunday River’s Grand Summit Hotel, instruction in archery, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and stand-up paddle boarding yoga is easy,” she said.

L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools at Sunday River offers clinics and courses at select times Monday through Friday until August 17. You can get your registration forms online at www.sundayriver.com/llbean

Sunday River’s Mountain Park is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays beginning June 29 until September 3rd. Starting Friday, September 8, the Mountain Park schedule shifts to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays until the closing day on October 8. Mountain Park activity tickets and passes are available to purchase from Sunday River Sports in the South Ridge Lodge.

For additional information on any of Sunday River’s summer activities, events and the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools partnership visit www.sundayriver.com or call 800-543-2754.

Be safe and have an enjoyable summer.

Steamboat ski resort jewel in Colorado Rocky Mountains

Dan CassidyINside the OUTside

by Dan Cassidy

A large group of NASJA (North American Snowsports Journalists) ventured to the Colorado Rockies recently to ski several notable resorts, including Vail, Copper, Winter Park, Loveland, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Keystone as pre trips and then all joining up at Steamboat Mountain resort located in northwestern part of the state.

Steamboat is one of the finest world-class ski resorts, with a peak elevation on Mt. Werner at 10,568 feet, covering 2,965 acres of skiable terrain and even though there are more lifts than other ski areas, the lift infrastructure struggles to cover the entire mountain. There are 165 named trails for skiers and riders to enjoy, from steep (double black diamond) runs to easy cruisers, and tree skiing with plenty of room to spread the fun.

The resort also has backside skiing on Morningside Park that adds to the fun for everyone’s ability. You can make first tracks by boarding the eight-person gondola between 8 and 8:15 a.m.

Ski with Billy Kidd

Join Billy Kidd, Olympic Medalist and World Champion where you’ll get some pointers and take a run down the intermediate run Heavenly Daze.

A special treat at Steamboat is you won’t need a vehicle to get around any of Steamboat’s properties. There are several shuttle buses that transport passengers throughout the area including the mountain lifts, shopping facilities and the many restaurants.

High altitude environment

If you’re heading to Steamboat, you’ll want to take notice that you might experience symptoms of dizziness, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep problems, coughing and difficulty breathing. Also, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, stay hydrated and be sure to dress appropriately for cold conditions.

Steamboat offers an experience of a laid-back western culture. There are hundreds of restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops as well as the finest lodging and ski experiences that Colorado has to offer.

Before you go …

If you’re planning to just fly to Steamboat with a few friends, that’s one thing. However, if you’re planning on going with a group, make sure you have a travel agent that will deal with the public relations department at the resort and make sure you have your commitments in writing and that they are honored. I recently learned that the travel agency our NASJA group dealt with did not honor many of the requests and that they did not provide a detailed accounting of several other commitments.

I was hoping to end this column in a favorable way because the mountain resort is truly a great area. But with the amount of work our executive secretary did to make our trek a success, I don’t think that as a journalist I would be willing to promote or recommend Steamboat as a go to place. I am constantly asked by many skiing friends questions like where have I skied out west or to foreign resorts and how I would recommend my experience. I have made it a policy to be truthful with anybody who will be spending a lot of money for a ski vacation that they will have a pleasant trip.

Ski and ride safely. Use your head and wear a helmet.

Skimo races coming to Maine ski areas

Dan CassidyINside
the
OUTside

by Dan Cassidy

The Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation plans to celebrate the accomplishments of disabled athletes who participate year-round in adaptive sports at the 32nd annual Ski-a-thon, according to Deb Maxfield, marketing and development director.

“This year’s theme is Randonnée, recognizing that Maine Adaptive’s Founding Partner, Sunday River will host the “Something Bigger” skimo race on Ski-A-Thon morning, Maxfield said in a media e-mail.”

Ski mountaineering racing arrived in northeastern U.S. during the 2004-05 season. The NE Rando Race Series has been organizing races since the 2008-09 season at six different venues in four different states. “As the sport has rapidly grown here in the northeast,” according to race director Jonathan Shefftz. “The time has come for a race at one of the northeast’s biggest resorts, Sunday River,” he said. “All race proceeds will benefit Maine Adaptive.”

By far the most expansive course layout ever held in the northeast, the race will attract elite aerobic athletes from the fields of alpine racing, triathlon, road running, trail running, cycling, Nordic skiing and other endurance sports. The race will be scored for the national ranking points system of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association (USSMA), recognized as our nation’s governing body for the sport by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF). The ISMF has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee as an official Olympic Federation in preparation for skimo racing’s inclusion as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Competitors with a chance to podium come from many New England ski resorts. Despite such talent at the top, the Someday Bigger race is open to everyone. There will be a shortened, noncompetitive course for those looking for a different challenge. On-line registration is available until midnight Thursday, March 23 at https://www.maineadaptive.org/ski-a-thon/the-something-bigger-event/. Limited day of registration may also be available. The race begins at 9 a.m.

Maine Adaptive provides free adaptive lessons in alpine and nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, paddling, cycling, tennis and golf. The Ski-A-Thon raises over half of Maine Adaptive’s annual operating funds, which provides equipment and programming to nearly 500 adults and children annually. Throughout the winter, groups of five commit to supporting Maine Adaptive by securing donations and pledges as a Ski-A-Thon team.

For additional information, visit www.maineadaptive.org or contact Deb Maxfield, at dmaxfield@maineadaptive.org or call (617) 794-7104.

Widowmaker: a new mystery novel

Dan CassidyINside the OUTside
by Dan Cassidy

If you’re a skier who either lives or commutes to the western mountains of Maine or just enjoys reading great mystery novels, Widowmaker and Precipice, along with others by a local author are must read books.

The seventh in a series of novels by author Paul Doiron, Widowmaker takes place in a western Maine ski area in and around the Franklin county area.  There are five other books, authored by Doiron, that are on my to do reading list.

In this novel, Doiron portrays the fictitious Alpine Ski Academy, located at the base of the also fictitious Widowmaker Ski Resort that is about a game warden named Mike Bowditch.  Bowditch takes us to some actual locations including Saddleback, in Rangeley, and Sugarloaf, in Carrabassett Valley.  You’ll also find descriptions of people who live and work there and others who visit the area to ski.  Bowditch, a graduate of Colby College, in Waterville, grew up in the western mountains of Maine as the son of an infamous poacher.

Paul Doiron’s first novel, The Poacher’s Son, (printed by Minotaur Books, New York, 2011) describes Bowditch’s unstable upbringing as the son of an alcoholic womanizer who spent time in ski bars after his shifts on the grooming crew at Widowmaker Mountain, when he wasn’t in the woods poaching animals. “Sugarloafer’s will recognize that my fictional resort, Widowmaker is a more downscale version of their mountain,” Doiron said.

Other novels by author Paul Doiron include, Trespasser, Bad Little Falls, Massacre Pond, and The Bone Orchard.  His first book, the Poacher’s Son, won the Barry and the Strand Critics Award and was nominated for an Edgar, an Anthony, a Macavity and a Thriller Award.  His second novel, Trespasser, received the Maine Literary Award, according to a recent press release.  Doiron’s sixth book, the Precipice, was a Library Reads selection and ABA best seller.  His novels have been translated into ten languages.  Doiron is Editor Emeritus of Down East Magazines and a registered Maine Guide.  He lives on a trout stream in mid-coast Maine.

“I suppose I had two inspirations for this book, which is the seventh in a series,” Doiron said in an e-mail interview.  “In the first novel, the Poacher’s Son, Mike Bowditch’s life and his sense of the world are completely upended,” he said.  “He struggles with his sense of betrayal in the subsequent books, but I really felt the time had arrived for him to have closure with the bitter memory of his later father, Jack, who was this sort of towering figure, for bad, but also good, in his early life.”

Coming back to reality, Doiron said there was no real warden whom Mike Bowditch was based on.  “I am sure the Warden Service would consider a good thing!  He represents aspects of my own personality, of course, especially in the early books.  His bravery, his commitment to seeing justice service, his knowledge of the outdoors, I’ve also met younger wardens who started reading my novels before they applied to the service and many of them identify with Mike.  Hearing that is always a wonderful thing.

Doiron said that the local warden in Carrabassett Valley, Scott Stevens, was good enough to give me a tour of the district and answer a lot of my questions along the way.

One of Bowditch’s female confidants, Stacy plays a major role in the book.  “Stacy is based on several female wildlife biologists I’ve known, and they’ve almost all stuck me as being more dedicated than their male counterparts,” he said.  “Partly it’s because the sciences are a discipline where women have still had to prove themselves.  Her personality is largely fictional and any resemblance she might bear to certain girlfriends I had in my youth are entirely coincidental.”

The vivid depiction of the region of Maine between Saddleback and Sugarloaf, complete with the contrast between the locals and the more privileged skiers from away make this novel a real page-turner, according to a recent press release.

The Precipice

The other book I read this summer was titled The Precipice, that takes place along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail where two female hikers disappear near the 100-mile Wilderness and Gulf Hagas.  It’s here that warden Mike Bowditch and wildlife biologist Stacy Stevens get involved in the search of the missing hikers and get wrapped up in several encounters.

So, if you’re interested in reading some thriller novels before the snow flies, check these books out.  You just may not be able to put them down.