Last Saturday I took my skis to Mt Abram, one of those visits I always look forward to. The ski area has always had a loyal following from the Norway/Paris area, so I usually find some long-time friends. It’s also interesting to find out how it is doing an in the shadow of the state’s biggest ski resort.

According to marketing director Kevin Rosenberg, Mt. Abram is doing very well. He attributed the success to bargains on Thursday and Friday and some racing. The previous owner instituted a plan limiting days it was open to Thursday through Sunday, except for holidays and vacation periods. That strategy has worked well. It reduces expenses and allows the groomers to get everything in good shape for Thursday. The keys have been two-for-one lift tickets on Thursday and Caravan Fridays, when a car load of skiers are provided with lift tickets for $75 — no large passenger vans or buses and everyone must be legally belted in. These promotions have boosted skier visits on those two days, and Friday nights are busy with middle and high school racing.

The bargain day reminded me of the many ways to save on lift tickets. When skiers, and more importantly potential skiers, complain about the cost of lift tickets, they are referring to the listed price of a one-day weekend lift ticket. This price is paid only by unknowing skiers walking up to the ticket window Saturday morning and buying a one-day pass. Buy a two day ticket and get a discount. A five-day mid-week ticket lowers the daily cost even more. Buy tickets on line and save as well. Lodging and lift-ticket packages cut costs for destination skiers. New skiers can find all kinds of promotional packages to lure them..

Back at my computer after the weekend, I checked a few local areas for some other deals. I was reminded of one of the first “Twofer” days. Wildcat instituted the two-for-one lift ticket on Wednesdays years ago. For many years, it was always the busiest Wednesday ski area in the Mount Washington Valley. Other areas in the region now have their own deals, so Wildcat no longer has the Wednesday crowd to itself.

Lost Valley has a number of deals, in addition to being able to buy tickets by the hour for those with limited time. Tuesday and Wednesday are two-for-one, and skiers showing a lift ticket from another area can ski for $18. Teens ski for $12 on Saturday.

At Shawnee Peak, Mondays are carload days for $79. Tuesday is Twofer for $57. Monday nights, ski from 4 to 9 p.m. for $13. And don’t forget Maine days at Saddleback. These are only a few samples of the deals out there, but they make the point. There are plenty of ways to beat the high cost of a lift ticket. The internet is where most of them are found. All ski areas have web sites and the easiest way to access those in Maine and nearby New Hampshire is by going to www.skimaine.com or www.skinh.com.

Among the people I planned on looking up was Tim LaVallee, who is directing a racing program at Mount Abram. LaVallee, a Winthrop native, has coached the U.S. Ski Team and was the key figure at Gould in creating the Sunday River program that is turning out some outstanding skiers. I found Tim on Boris Badenov, the advanced run down the middle of the area. He was coaching a young woman, Lauren McHatten, a senior at Winthrop. A year ago she placed second in giant slalom and third in slalom at the Class C championships. This past fall, Lauren was hit in the head by a field-hockey ball, suffering a serious concussion. This was just her second time on skis this season, and Tim’s goal is to have her ready for racing later this month so she can qualify for the state championships. Watching her ski, I could see the talent. There were no gates, but her aggressive GS turns carved down the fall line were precise with no signs of disability.

Tim pointed out a number of other top high school skiers training at Mount Abram — Lindsay Jacques from Jay, Abby Jansen from St. Dom’s and Krista Hakala, Marisa Hanning and Ryan Stuart of Oxford Hills. LaVallee said the program’s enrollment has doubled this season. He sees its role as supporting the athletes’ home program (school) and coaches while aiding in preparation for the championships.

I learned about another aspect of the Mount Abram program when I rode up with a skier who was training on gates with Tim Hutchisen, who told the young man not to believe a word I said on the way up. That surely came from Tim starting his career as a junior patrolman when I directed the Sunday River ski patrol. Naturally, I told the junior racer that Tim was a pretty good patrolman, except when he was getting run over by his own rescue toboggan. It was a good day at Mount Abram.


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