by Dan Cassidy
The foliage in the Carrabassett Valley region was at peak as Sugarloaf held their annual Homecoming events over Columbus weekend.
Thousands of Sugarloafers, young and old came to take part in meeting and reconnect with friends, attend condo meetings, check out the homecoming craft fair in the Base Lodge, take complementary chairlift rides on the SuperQuad, bike, hike and just hang out listening to a live band on the Landing, and attend the Sugarloaf Passholder’s meeting at the Inn.
Sugarloafers also visited the new state-of-the-art CVA/ Sugarloaf Ski Club Competition Center, next to the Base Lodge where the old Gondola Station used to be. The new center will become a hub for social activity and networking providing a warm and welcoming venue for athletes of all ages. The 11,000-square-foot building includes day lodge space, tuning and waxing facilities, locker rooms, a trainers’ room, meeting space and offices. The facility’s total cost was $2.1 million. Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation helped make a dream possible.
Karl Strand, general manager greeted a large crowd at the Sugarloaf Inn, who were all eager to connect and hear about summer activities, mountain upgrades and to find out about what’s in store for the upcoming season and beyond. Strand, Ethan Austin, director of marketing and communications, Richard Crusher Wilkinson, vice president of mountain operations, Sam Punderson of Mountainside Real Estate and Kate Punderson, head of school at Carrabassett Valley Academy and Bruce Miles, president of the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club spoke about plans for the upcoming season.
Strand spoke about last year’s snow content that affected the bottom line of their budget. “It was a tough year,” Strand said, showing a graph. “The mountain received about 50 percent of snow over the season. There was no measurable snow in November, and only 24 inches of snow from the February vacation week on.” Strand said that rain events on weekends didn’t help out. “The groomer’s did a great job of grooming out and making snow until the next rain event came. It was a very unusual year, and as a result, lift ticket sales were down lodging was down, everything affected the bottom line, it was a rough year.”
Ethan Austin, marketing director of Sugarloaf, gave a run down on last year’s numbers and a look at what’s coming up this season. “Passholder sales were down, along with skier count, resulting in a somewhat down season,” Austin said, “but things are looking better for the upcoming season in lodging and ticket sales.”
“Some of the things like lift tickets are challenging,” Austin said. “Lift tickets are a huge part of dynamic pricing – more in demand. We have dropped the price of a mid-week lift ticket by 13 percent. Weekend and holiday prices are increasing this year. There is more demand on the weekends.”
“Going further into the dynamic model in online sales, we have a partnership with a new company called Intopia through our website, we’ll be selling lift tickets online that are available right now. Purchase a lift ticket for a March date and lock in the price and you will save a ton,” he said.
Other speakers including Kate Punderson, head of school, Bruce Miles, president of the Ski Club and Sam Punderson of Mountainside Realty gave updates on projects ongoing at the Mountain.
It’s time to get your gear out and ready. Tune and wax those skis and snowboards up and get into shape.
Hope to see you on the mountain soon!
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