The toughest thing to do this winter is watch weather forecasts. It seems as if every forecast mentions rain, if not the next day, sometime before the week is out. I try to plan several days ahead so I can meet my deadlines and still find time to ski. Obviously, rainy days are spent at the desk, but it’s not that easy. We have to allow a day or two after the rain for the groomers to get things back in shape, and even skiers with flexible schedules such as mine find it challenging to get out. But we’ll get there for the absolute minimum of 30 days, and with a bit of luck, hit the goal of 40.

Fortunately, we did find enough good weather to get out with a pair of brothers-in-law, and their story is a good example of why now is a great time for lapsed skiers to return. One of them returned to skiing a few years ago and asked my advice on skis. I directed him to the previous year’s models at a preseason sale, and he has been very happy with the 183 recreational GS skis.

The other took a trip a year ago and rented equipment. He loved the 150 cm models, and this year decided it was time to get his won gear and get serious about it. He wound up on some 155 all-mountain skis.

Both have bought discount-season passes and are the slopes frequently. Both are in their 50s. I have sat in on countless seminars where ski-area marketing types were trying to figure out how to get lapsed skiers back into the sport. If my brothers-in-law are any indication, all they need to do is offer a day of skiing on the new gear and that will do the job.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Dan Egan and his all-terrain clinics. I called to see how he handled the situation when a skier shows up for one of his sessions with old equipment. He said, “I tell them, if you’re going to pay me for a lesson, you need the right equipment to get the most out of it.” He asks, “Got a cell phone? Got a computer? Why not new skis?”

Dan doesn’t understand why people who stay up with the times in all other areas, don’t keep up in their recreation.

This old equipment often shows up on discount days. Those once-a-year skiers turn out for $5 or $10 lift tickets. They show up with leather boots and bindings with safety straps. Some enterprising operators give them free rental equipment to show them how much easier life on the slopes could be. Steve Wight at the Sunday River Inn always provides free gear when he spots old three pin set-ups at his cross country center. He once told me he has had skiers buy new on the spot and leave their old stuff for him to dispose of.

I mention this because I’m always talking with people who say, “I used to ski, but got away from it.” The reasons vary, but I tell them all the same thing. With today’s grooming and equipment, skiing has never been easier. If you know someone in this category, tell them to try a day on the new skis and you will probably find a new skiing partner.

All for a good cause

One good excuse to ski is helping out charity. There are a lot of these each season, and you have just under two weeks to get a team together for the 11th Annual Moonlight Charity Challenge at Shawnee Peak. Set for Friday night, Feb. 3, this event will benefit Camp Sunshine and the Shawnee Peak Adaptive Skiing Program.

Skiers have several options for supporting the cause. Put together a team of four, family, friends or co-workers and enter the race as skiers, snowboarders, or telemarkers. The initial entry fee is $300 per team for which each member receives a lift ticket, dinner, welcome bag, event t-shirt, and entry into several event raffles. For every $100 over the entry fee a team raises, a second is shaved off the team’s total time making it a race on the snow and a race to raise money. The event gets under way at noon, with racing at 4 p.m., and dinner and awards at 7. Those who aren’t up to racing can purchase one of $200 event raffle tickets. The Grand Prize is an all expense paid trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo. for two worth $4,000. To date, this event has raised over $300,000. To learn more about participating, check www.shawneepeak.com.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.


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