Ski resorts say goodbye to season: Heavier than usual snows blanket two Maine areas this season

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Western Maine’s three large ski resorts recorded whopping amounts of natural snow from a long, cold season that ended Monday for Sugarloaf when it closed.

Additionally, spokespeople for two resorts raved about this season being one of the better ones on record.

But it was Saddleback in Rangeley that recorded what they said is a record snowfall for the season — 276 inches or 23 feet, spokeswoman JoAnn Taylor stated Monday by email.

That’s more than 4 feet more than Saddleback’s seasonal average of 225 inches, she said.

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It’s also 7 feet more than that received by the Carrabassett Valley ski hill.

By comparison, Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said it had more than 192 inches (16 feet).

“It has been an incredible year for snow, and our snowpack held up extremely well throughout the spring,” Brad Larsen, Sugarloaf’s vice president of Sales and Marketing, said.

Sunday River in Newry recorded 153 inches (12.75 feet), Caroline Ochtera, marketing director, said Tuesday.

A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray said Tuesday that they don’t track snowfall amounts at ski resorts.

Saddleback, which delayed its planned opening on Nov. 24 to Dec. 10 due to a mild November, closed on May 1.

Sunday River, the first ski area in the country to open on Oct. 23 for the 2010-11 winter season, closed on Easter Sunday.

“This April 24 closing date will mark the resort’s second year in a row of a six-month long operating milestone and the longest ski season on the East Coast,” Darcy Morse, Sunday River spokeswoman, said recently.

Taylor said the Rangeley resort decided to extend its season by operating on weekends into May.

On its closing weekend, Saddleback operated four lifts and had 45 trails open, she said.

“We could have operated a few more weekends, but we met our objective of extending the season into May,” Chris Farmer, Saddleback general manager, stated Monday in the same report.

“It’s now time to focus on our summer programs and events.”

Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said Sunday by email that die-hard skiers and riders took to the slopes for one last time Monday.

That marked “the latest closing date for Sugarloaf in more than a decade,” Austin said.

The resort opened for the season Nov. 21.

Saddleback’s Farmer announced record revenue and skier visits for the season.

He said the Rangeley ski hill’s revenues from mountain operations increased more than 10 percent. He said it also saw a 14 percent increase in the number of skiers and snowboarders.

Austin said Sugarloaf had an equally good season, with lift ticket revenues up 5.3 percent over last year and lodging revenues up 6 percent over last year as well. Overall skier visits were up also, he said.

None of the three resorts ever release specific numbers.

“When the final numbers come in, we expect that this will end up as one of our best seasons in Sugarloaf’s 60-year history,” Austin said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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