Maine's ski areas are waiting for you

Boosts in snowmaking systems across Maine ski country yields white carpets of corduroy for skiers and riders. Photo Courtesy of Sunday River Boosts in snowmaking systems across Maine ski country yields white carpets of corduroy for skiers and riders.
There’s a lot in store for Maine's skiers and slope riders this season. You just have to know where to look to find the new stuff and lift ticket prices that don’t make you feel like you’ve had your pocket picked. 
 
From the It Must Be News to Someone Department, Sunday River’s new triple Spruce Peak lift is on hold until the 2017-18 season. 
 
But there's good news for foodies. Portland restauranteur Harding Lee Smith of Room fame is overseeing the transformation of the mid-mountain Peak Lodge on North Peak into The Mountain Room that starts with a 20-person bar and signature drinks like Smith's ode to the River, the Happy Place Found—a concoction of top shelf bourbon, blueberry jam, banana, rosemary, and soda water—will be offered. 
 
Food truck-loving sliders must be glad the Maine-ly Meatball food truck returns to the base of Jordan Bowl while at the South Ridge base area, a tiny house food truck on wheels called the SaltBox Café will be on hand during weekends. 
 
Say good-bye to spring’s Chili Cookoff and hello to beautiful brisket baby at the inaugural Brisket Derby.
 
Bring the dog since the Snow Cap Inn now has six dedicated dog-friendly rooms. 
 
Sugarloaf continues skiing along its Sugarloaf 2020 Ten-Year Road Map. The Loaf pumped money into more snowmaking system upgrades, targeting Narrow Gauge with more than 7000 feet of snowmaking pipe, a wise investment given the return of the U.S. Alpine Championships in March. 
 
Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, and teamwork of Carrabassett Valley Academy, Sugarloaf, and the Sugarloaf Ski Club, the Bill and Joan Alfond Competition Center is finished. It’s located on an expanded footprint of what was originally the loading terminal of the famous Sugarloaf gondola and features office space, tuning and waxing facilities, trainers’ room, locker room, conference room, and a great room and kitchen.
 
Saddleback may reopen — after being closed last season — sending economic shockwaves through Rangeley if the non-profit Saddleback Mountain Foundation can raise $4 million to use as part of a down payment and operating capital. The group has reached an agreement to buy the resort from the Berry family for $6 million. Members of the foundation comprised of ski area enthusiasts, condo owners and Rangeley area business owners have met with the public to talk about their plans which figures on about $20 million to make the area self-sustaining in four years
 
Bridgton’s Shawnee Peak renovated its rental shop, beefed up snowmaking around its mid-station and beyond, and made their online presence more friendly allowing them to sell more products like lift tickets.
 
Behind-the-scenes stalwart Ed Rock, the veteran general manager, is technically retired but is staying on a bit this winter as a senior advisor. Rock is a low-key, hands-on leader who has helped hone Shawnee’s family, recreational and competitive spirit over the years. A tip of the hat to a most modest man.
 
Stepping into the position is Maine native Ralph Lewis. A Bridgton Academy and University of New Hampshire grad, Lewis has more than 30 years of ski industry experience at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H. and the Attitash in Bartlett, N.H. 
 
Shawnee’s got lots of non-holiday deals for night owls including $15 Monday Night Madness tickets and $25 night skiing Tuesday to Thursday.
 
Mt. Abram in Greenwood, a ski area getting national accolades for its green philosophy and practice, is holding a holiday sale on gift cards through Dec. 25. Buy a $100 gift card for $80. 
 
Maine’s feeder hills are excellent values. Lost Valley in Auburn, highest price is $45, has deals to be found, non-holiday of course. College students (valid ID needed), military (with military ID) and seniors 65 and up pay $20 days or evenings. Another non-holiday special includes two-for-one Tuesday evening tickets. 
 
About 90 minutes north of Portland, Camden Snow Bowl is increasing its offerings by hooking up with Mid Coast New England Mountain Bike Association and Coastal Mountains Lake Trust for fat biking, snowshoeing and XC opportunities. Top lift ticket to ski by the sea is $43. Farmington’s Titcomb offers free skiing to those under five and over 70. All others pay a maximum of $22 for the t-bar lift and that’s during weekends and holidays. Black Mountain in Rumford charges $15 on Fridays (except vacation and holiday weeks), and $29 on Saturday and Sunday. 
 
And don’t forget the three-trail, t-bar served Powderhouse Hill in South Berwick. Owned by the town and run by the Powderhouse Hill Ski Club, lift tickets are a cash only five bucks—cheaper than an Allagash Curieux.
So choose your hill and get another Snow Nation season party started. 
Last modified onMonday, 12 December 2016 11:12