After spending Christmas Day looking out on a green lawn, it was nice to learn the mountains had picked up some snow the next day. It was even better to see that temperatures in the mountains would be cold enough for snowmaking most of the week.

That gave us some optimism heading into this final weekend of the vacation, and we made our plans to ski over the weekend and start the new year on the slopes.

Most years, New Year’s Day is one of the best to ski, and this year could be even better as long as the weather cooperates. Many skiers will celebrate too late tonight so we’ll be able to have the trails to ourselves in the early morning. Things will be quiet in the afternoon as skiers leave early to watch football, and this year many will be leaving early for the drive home as vacation ends.

Of course, it would be better if all the trails were open, but snowmakers can’t work miracles. With normal temperatures, today’s snowmaking can achieve incredible results. But temperatures were above normal the month of December, there were only a handful of days with temperatures suitable for running the guns. We have to thank technology for the skiing we have.

At Lost Valley, two new Fan Jet snowguns were purchased so snow could be made at 28 degrees unlike the old guns that needed 20 or lower. By midweek, ski areas were reporting 20 to 30 percent operation and projecting more for the weekend. When the snowmakers have to go back over trails a second and third time to keep them skiable, it’s tough to add more trails, but somehow new trails have been added. We have reason to have hope as we enter what is normally the coldest month of the year.

No slouching on the slopes

And that’s what New Years are supposed to bring. I am confident that the ski areas with their snowmakers will give us plenty of skiing whether it snows or not. That confidence along with faith that it will snow eventually leads me to my annual resolutions.

As always, I resolve to ski more often. In recent seasons, work has prevented some ski days, and that’s something in my control. I can arrange my work so at least one day a week is free to ski, and I will be on the slopes at least one midweek day each week. If I do this, I can get back up to that 40-plus day mark even with a slow start.

The extra days will also help to prepare for a western trip to Crested Butte at the end of March. With a base elevation of 9,300 feet, this is not a place to ski without some conditioning. More skiing will help, and my resolve to add some exercise, either by cross country skiing if it’s available near home, or other forms such as skating, walking or pedaling a stationary bike.

Another resolution is to test more intermediate skis. Each year, I ski at least 30 pair of skis, mostly for advanced skiers. The reason is simple. I ski race skis and those are the ones I prefer, so I test skis for good skiers. Skiing with Glen Plake a couple of weeks ago, I tried a pair of Elans designed for intermediate skiers and found that they skied very well indeed. If Glen Plake can ski at the speeds he enjoys on such skis, that means a lot of good skiers might find some of the new models acceptable. I need to try them to identify those that work so you who read these words can have more choices. If it takes a few extra days of skiing, that will help meet the first resolution. Are you getting a picture here? Good, because all my resolutions add up to rationalizing my reasons for skiing more.

Another resolution is to ski in more charitable events. Ski areas host a bunch of these every winter, and they’re a great way to have some fun while helping out.

Charitable mood

Lost Valley starts out Jan. 12 with Special Olympics and the Tin Can Round Up where three cans of food for the Good Shepherd Food Bank will get you $10 off a lift ticket. The J.P. Parisien Memorial Race is set for Jan 15.

Sunday River has the Lenny Clarke Celebrity Classic Jan. 25-28 to benefit the Genesis Fund for New England’s children.

Shawnee Peak will have Non-Profit Thursdays this season. Ten percent of ticket sales from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will go to the designated non-profit. The first will be next Thursday, Jan. 4 to benefit the American Red Cross. There will also be a day-long blood drive at the mountain. Different non-profits are scheduled throughout the winter.

The Sugarloaf Charity Summit is set for Jan. 19-20 to benefit a variety of charities, including the Martha Webber Cancer Fund.

For these and other events, check the ski area Web sites. The calendars are full of events to have fun and make a contribution. Now you know my resolutions and some of the events I’ll be checking out.

Join me in skiing more. Happy New Year.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.


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