Cold not a problem for winter sports enthusiasts

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With the subzero temperatures the Northeast has been experiencing lately, some folks may be considering hibernation, and limiting their time outside to getting the mail and getting into their cars.

Then there are the brave few.

On Saturday, several local outdoor enthusiasts gathered at the Bethel Inn Resort Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Center on a day that would scarcely see temperatures above zero.

Beverly Soucy and Robert Farrington of Rumford were out snowmobiling, on what they said were nearly empty trails.

Tia and Stephen Jeselskis of Woodstock were on the lake ice-fishing, staying cozy in their ice shack, complete with a wood stove.

Sunday River Director of Communications, Darcy Lambert, said the mountain has seen 15 to 20 percent fewer day-ticket sales, compared to last year, during the cold snap, but it could be due to selling more season passes.

“We’ve seen slower day business during extra-cold periods, but outside of that business has been as expected or better,” Lambert said.

The Bethel Inn Resort Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Center has not seen any dip in numbers.

Sarah Weafer, project manager for Mahoosuc Pathways, which organizes and maintains trails for recreational use, said Nordic (cross-country) skiing is different from Alpine (downhill), because the skiers are moving their bodies more, and therefore staying warm.

“People are still super excited to be outside,” Weafer said. “With cross-country skiing, you’re out in the woods, protected from the wind. Once you get moving, your body warms up. (Nordic) skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to stay warm in this cold weather.”

Thanks to the cold, trail conditions are better than ever, for skiers and snowmobilers alike.

“It’s some of the best riding out there,” Soucy said. “The trails are incredible, and it’s like we own them because no one else is out there.” 

In fact, the trails’ pristine condition was the main reason so many showed up on Saturday to ski the Bethel Village Trails.

“It’s not the friendliest day for it,” said Norm Greenberg of Hanover, referencing the gusting wind, “but the trails are great.”

Paul Motts of Bethel was staying warm on the trails with seven “multi-functional” layers, meaning each layer performs a specific task.

“I’ve got my base layer, my wicking layer, and then my wicking with warmth layer, two lightweight thermals, one heavy thermal, and my outer layer,” Motts said.

Julia Reuter of Bethel said she and her husband, James, go out no matter what the weather.

“The hardest part is getting out of the car,” she said. “Then we get into the woods immediately.”

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Norm Greenberg of Hanover puts wax on his skis Saturday afternoon before going out on the Bethel Inn Village Trails in Bethel. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

Julia Reuter of Bethel takes shelter from the wind behind a display board while putting on her skis at the Bethel Inn Village Trails on Saturday. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal) 

From left, James Reuter, Norm Greenberg, Paul Motts, Kirk Siegal and Julia Reuter pose outside the Bethel Inn Village Trails before heading out to ski Saturday, in temperatures below zero. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

From left, James Reuter, Norm Greenberg, Kirk Siegal and Julia Reuter head out to find the woods trails along the Bethel Inn Village Trails in Bethel on Saturday in below-zero temperatures. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

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