CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Sugarloaf ski resort is opening Friday, Nov. 9, a full week ahead of schedule and its earliest opening day since 2007, spokesman Ethan Austin said late Wednesday afternoon in a news release.
Favorable temperatures, a new fleet of state-of-the-art, snow-making equipment and "a lot of hard work by our snow-making team," made it possible, he said.
"Sugarloaf’s snow-makers have been able to take advantage of a sustained window of below freezing temperatures since Sunday to blanket several trails in fresh snow," Austin said.
The crew used $1 million worth or 300 new low-energy HKD snow guns purchased during the offseason.
Skiing and riding on opening day will be available on the Boardwalk and Lower Winter’s Way trails, with lift service available on the Double Runner East lift, he said.
The resort will remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10 and 11. Lift tickets will be just $25 for all ages.
Sugarloaf will then close on Monday for the midweek period. However, if weather and conditions cooperate, the resort will reopen for good on Friday, Nov. 16, Austin said.
That was the resort's scheduled opening day.
The new snow guns, produced by Snow Economics Inc./HKD Snowmakers, can produce the same amount of snow as traditional, older equipment, while using up to 90 percent less compressed air, Austin said.
"The new guns allow us to make greater quantities of snow at marginal temperatures (20-30 degrees F.), all while using significantly less energy than traditional, older-style snow guns," he said.
The off-season investment was part of Sugarloaf’s 10-year development plan — called Sugarloaf 2020 — which the resort unveiled in 2010.
The 2020 vision includes plans for new lifts, improved snow-making infrastructure, and a massive 650-acre expansion onto neighboring Burnt Mountain, making Sugarloaf the largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains, he said.