February is always a big ski month, the heart of the season with deep snow depths on the trails and the sun getting higher every day. Add vacation week and an ever-growing list of special events we have the Winter Olympics the ninth through the 25th.
Maine has had a skier in every Winter Olympics since 1948, and this year is no different.
Of course, when Chummy Broomhall represented us in 1948 and 1952, there were only four skiing disciplines, cross country, jumping, downhill and slalom. Now we have four alpine events, five if you count the combined, downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom.
We also have numerous distances for cross country: biathlon, freestyle, Nordic combined and Nordic jumping. There’s also snowboard and snowboard cross. I don’t know how many total events this is, but it’s enough so we should get to watch as much as we want.
With the naming of Bethel’s Troy Murphy to the freestyle team, Maine has three skiers heading for Korea. Russell Currier of Stockholm and Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth had been previously named to the biathlon team.
Murphy will compete in the mogul competition and is one of our best at this discipline. He just missed going to the Sochi games but this year will be there.
Just how the TV network will prioritize their coverage is always a question. We seldom get to watch ski events live as the networks prefer to show highlights on a delayed basis. This has changed some with the addition of snowboard and free skiing events that include a lot of jumps. Mogul skiing with aerial maneuvers playing a key role in the scoring tends to get good coverage, so we should get to watch Troy Murphy compete. How much we’ll see of Currier and Egan depends on how the network covers biathlon.
Of course, there is always the time difference to consider. We are 14 hours behind South Korea, and the International Dateline is between us. As I checked this on Monday at 4 p.m., it was 6 a.m. Tuesday in Korea.
If we ignore the dateline we know that an event at 8 a.m. will be actually at 6 p.m. here, which means daytime events at the Olympics will occur from early evening and through the night our time. You may lose some sleep trying to watch everything live — assuming it’s available.
Don’t just watch skiing …
The time difference may be a good thing. With events taking place at night our time, we can still get in our skiing, and there is plenty going on at our ski areas.
February is always busy with competition, as most of the school championships take place during vacation week. The J.P. Parisien Race will take place next weekend at Lost Valley. They also have a USASA Slopestyle and Rail Jam on the Feb. 11; Skimo competition Feb. 13, 20 and 27; Skiers’ Edge race series Feb. 18 and the end-of-season party for the Baxter Race series party Feb. 22.
Black Mountain kicks off the month with Ski Free with Franklin Savings next Thursday, a Park Shark Challenge on Feb. 3, Winterfest Feb. 9-11, and Skimo Classic on Feb. 10.
Mount Abram has Ullr Festival next weekend, including a Telefest on Feb. 3, a Feel the Love Theme and MARA racing Feb. 8-10, and it will be open all week for vacation Feb. 18-25, with Mount Abram Ski Club events Feb. 23-25.
At Shawnee Peak, a lot is on tap for vacation week: Camp Sunshine Day on Feb. 19, Family Fun on Feb. 22, Spring Luau on Feb. 24 and the Russ Haggett Memorial Race on Feb. 25.
The schedule at Sugarloaf includes a Fat Tire Day and race Feb. 10; the seventh annual NEVI fest, a blind and visually impaired ski and ride festival on Feb. 11-14; a list of events for vacation week, including a Moon Light Climb on Feb. 21, and a CVA Scholarship Fund Raiser on Feb. 24.
First on Sunday River’s schedule is the Chef Summit on Feb. 3. President’s week features an Eddy the Yeti Family Peak Dinner on Feb. 19, a Nugget Jam with free parka and pipe tips from Gould freestyle coaches for those 12 and under Feb. 21 and a 3D Air and Apres Show on Feb. 24.
A quick check of Titcomb showed a full schedule of races, both Nordic and Alpine, through the month.
In addition to the events above you can find listings of bands appearing for apres ski and evenings at most ski areas. A complete list would take all of my allotted space, and I choose to focus on ski events. My idea of apres ski is a piano bar or a single folk singer whose guitar has no amplifier. What’s the point of apes ski if you can’t review your day without shouting?
One event will find me at Sugarloaf on Feb. 17: The Ski Museum of Maine’s annual Heritage Day features displays from the museum in the base lodge through the day.
You can check out historic photos, trail maps, patches and some Maine-made products that played important roles in the history of skiing, not only in Maine but nationally and internationally, as well.
The museum also has a number of videos that will be played. These include the 1971 World Cup (Tall Timber Classic) at Sugarloaf, and films of the 10th Mountain Division, both in training at Camp Hale in Colorado and in battle in Italy.
One truly unique film is “Tree to Ski.” This film from the early days of ski manufacturing shows how trees entered Paris Manufacturing through the sawmill on one end of the building and skis came out the other end.
At 4 p.m., the action will move to the Sugarloaf Inn for a reception with silent and live auctions. This is the fund raising part of the day and a chance to meet a bunch of Sugarloafers who have always turned out to support any cause involving skiing.
See you at the Loaf.