On Skiing: Despite warm week, great skiing still on tap

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It’s hard to believe that February is almost over, and after this past week’s weather, it might seem the ski season could be almost over as well.

The good news is that March is often our best ski month. The record warmth Wednesday might lead us to believe that an early spring is upon us, but before we think that this is a permanent change in the weather consider the record that was broken. The warmest day on that date was in 1937, so warm days in February are nothing new and January and February thaws followed by a cold and snowy March are common, so don’t despair.

We have at least a month and a half of skiing ahead.

Snowfall and temperatures will determine the kind and quality of the skiing, but we will ski until at least until the end of March, and mid- to late-April is likely. A lot of ski areas try to ski at least until Easter, which won’t be difficult this year with the holiday coming on April 1.

Conditions will vary from spring to mid-winter if March is typical. As long as we get freezing nights, skiing will hold up well and more snow is likely. The coming month is always one of transition. We know that a drop in temperatures that brings us mid-winter surfaces will be followed by a rise that brings spring conditions.

Marching into spring

The official start of the spring skiing season is St. Patrick’s Day, which is on a Saturday this year so we can expect bigger than usual celebrations.

I don’t think any ski areas go the trouble that Jim Kelly went to down at Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires. He called his ski area Kelly’s Irish Alps and fed coloring into his snowmaking to produce green snow for the big day each spring. The ski area no longer exists, and I don’t know of any other areas that go to this extent, but you will find green beer and plenty of Irish music on the decks, so join the celebration on the day when all skiers are Irish.

Special events fill the calendars as ski areas hope to take advantage of the warm sunny days to draw more skiers. By going online it’s also possible to find deals. One ski area that rarely operates after mid-March is Lost Valley, but they do have Super Saturday specials and the Skier Edge Sunday Race Series on the schedule.

Rumford’s Black Mountain has World Telemark Day on March 3, along with a retro Ski Day with Sebago Brewing. Get out your vintage gear and ski wear and enter the fun. A winter fun day and the Dempsey Challenge are set for March 10.

Mount Abram has WABAC weekend next weekend, special events for St. Patrick’s Day, Island Fver and Ski Club weekend of March 22, and Passholder’s Appreciation on the 29th.

At Shawnee Peak, next Friday is a New England Ski Day and a College Night, along with Winterkids Family Ski Day. Saturday, March 3, features a Cardboard Box Race. The 10th will have Mary’s Fireman for a Cure, Devins Downhill and the Jack Vallely Memorial Race. St Patrick’s Day has a Mattress Race. The Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester will enjoy their annual Spring Fling day compliments of Shawnee Peak on March 24, with Maple Syrup on Sunday the 25th. The following weekend will have Easter Egg Hunts.

Sugarloaf kicks off the month with the sixth annual Winterkids Downhill, a team event fund raiser March 2. The 16th will have a Nighttime Rail Jam, and the next day will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The weekend of 24-25 Sugarloafers will compete in the eighth annual Banked Slalom. Demos will be available Saturday, March 31, and, of course, there will be the usual Easter observances the next day.

At Sunday River, skiers 50 and older can race against members of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in the first annual Legends race. And you can drive new BMWs March 9-11.

The big event of every March at Sunday River is the annual Skiathon. This raises as much as $300,000 annually, and the 33rd edition is expected to be equally successful. To find out how to participate, go to www.maineadaptive.org. The Kids Spring Celebration will take place March 26-30. The World Pro Tour will visits Sunday River on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. This dual racing will be Monday Mourning, so it will be easily visible from the Barker Base Lodge. Easter observations will take place the next day.

Details on all of these events along with bands and entertainment schedules can be found by going to www.skimaine.com and visiting the various ski area sites.

While the actual date is April 1, Easter Sunday actually wraps up the month of March. Among the activities will be sunrise services, egg hunts and parades. I know a lot of skiers who consider Easter the end of the season, and it’s true that by the end of March, many areas will have shut down, but the traditional late-season areas will continue until mid-April, and if conditions allow, until the end of April.

A little Irish

Watching the Olympics I got see a Vail skier in the half-pipe, who was skiing for Bermuda. Matt Leseur’s father was from Bermuda so he qualified to represent that country.

This is nothing new for the Olympics. I remember a cover story in SKI Magazine proclaiming, “I was the Irish Ski Team.” It was the story of Bob McKee from Stowe, Vermont, who took advantage of the Irish granting citizenship to anyone with Irish ancestry. McKee got the OK from the Irish and ran the downhill in the Olympics.

I don’t recall which games, but he also skied in a 1978 World Cup at Stratton, Vermont, still as a member of the Irish Ski Team. Bob’s mother was Irish, giving him dual citizenship. For all of you ski racers with Irish an Irish parent or grandparent, this could be your ticket to the Olympics.

See you on the slopes.

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