RUMFORD — Winter recreationists, snowmobile dealers and Nordic ski center managers are lamenting Maine's lack of snow this month.
However, sales and service are up in most places, such as Mike and Julie Ferguson's Yamaha dealership, the Rev It Up Sport Shop in Rangeley.
“Sales are better this December than they were last December, not by a huge amount, but they are up,” Julie Ferguson said Thursday afternoon.
They didn't sell any sleds last December.
"We're thankful we're doing business, but it sure would be nice if we were to get a big snowstorm,” she said.
Diane Gammon agreed. She and husband, Ken, own Ken's Yamaha in Norway.
Gammon said she expected plenty of snow by now, what with Mother Nature's harbinger dumps for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
“I thought we might have an early snowfall, which helps with the sale of new sleds, but in Maine, the trails cross so many bodies of water that we need the cold before we need the snow,” she said.
“But at least if there's snow on the ground, people will start to think of snowmobiling, which means more on sales.
“We've done pretty good on service work. People are getting (their sleds) in and getting them ready in anticipation,” Gammon said.
Craig Anderson, who owns Central Maine Powersports in Lewiston, said sales this year are about the same as last year, but the service end is starting to slow.
He's not so much concerned about the dearth of snow, because he believes the best time to ride is in February and March. The days are longer, temperatures warmer, lakes are solidly iced over and there's plenty of snow.
However, the lack of snow and ice in December “certainly puts a question mark on the season,” he said.
“We're getting antsy, and some of my people might be getting a little bit grumpy."
Business has been good for Carter's Cross-Country Ski Shop and Ski Centers in Oxford.
“Obviously, we couldn't be skiing, which would be better, but retail sales have been pretty good," manager Jesse Hill said.
“We've had quite a few people who are optimistic about snow coming and skiing and everything, so it's all been good.”
Hill said Western Maine is getting from 2 to 4 inches of snow Thursday night into Friday.
“But that might be just another tease,” he said. “We just need some snow and no 50-degree weather like today.”
Debby Bastian of Pineland Farms Outdoor Recreation in New Gloucester agreed.
“We have a brand-new snow-maker and they made a little bit and they were going to try and open one trail, but then it got warm,” she said.
Rather than wait for snow, Roger Arsenault of Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford said his crew is putting in “an incredible effort” to make it.
“We are obviously struggling like everybody else,” he said.
However, they've got eight high-capacity demo snow-making fan guns going when temperatures cooperate to get ready for the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Championships.
Black Mountain is hosting that event from Jan. 2-8 and expects to open their Nordic and alpine venues sometime after Christmas.
“We've got about better than half of the cross-country course prepared and we should quite comfortably, weather permitting, pull it off and have at least a 3.75 (kilometer) loop, plus the sprint courses,” Arsenault said.
Ferguson said snow is the hot topic now.
“People have been calling to find out the conditions," she said.
"'Do we have any snow yet? When is it coming? Why isn't it here yet?' Oh yeah, I tell them all to pray.”
Gammon, however, is doing that one better with her annual snow dancing routine.
“I am, and I'd like everyone to do it too, and at least wear out three pairs of socks, at least,” she said, laughing heartily.
“I said that one year and people did it and boy, did we have snow! Three pairs of socks. That should do it.”