For skiers, seasons have different starting points. For some, it’s the first day, but for most of us there is a series of events that ease us into the season.

This year, the Ski Museum of Maine held a Ski Season Launch Party at the Eastland Hotel in Portland on Oct. 12. Over 200 skiers demonstrated their enthusiasm for the coming season by showing up and spending a few hours sharing stories with old and new friends. There were displays from the museum, which is located in Kingfield. The displays were a sampling of the various items in the museum, including made-in-Maine ski products, pictures, posters and patches from the state’s ski areas — past and present.

Two weeks later, Friday, Oct. 28, over 235 skiers were on hand at the Ninth Annual Maine Ski Hall of Fame induction banquet at Lost Valley. Since its inception in 2003, this event has turned into a reunion of skiers to kick off the  season in Maine. It has also become an important fund raiser for the museum.

You can learn more about the museum and the hall of fame at www.skimuseumofmaine.org. You can view the full color programs of this year’s and all previous classes to enter the hall. The biographies of the 80 inductees comprise a history of Maine skiing. And you can download forms to become a member of the museum or nominate a deserving skier.

The next event was the Boston Ski Show, Nov. 10-13 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. I have been using this four-day event for over 20 years to attend press conferences for ski resorts in Quebec, New Hampshire and Vermont to gather information from resorts all over the country. I also get a chance to touch base with ski reps, and they all reported positive feed back from their shops, which indicates plenty of folks are rearming themselves with new equipment.

Everyone in the ski business uses the Boston Ski Show as measure of skier demand, and the numbers at this year’s show indicate plenty of interest. The total of 45,000 skiers was up and Friday’s 15,000 was the biggest day ever. According to Greg Sweetser of Ski Maine, the state had the most representation at the show in years, and by late Friday, all the resorts were calling for more brochures so they wouldn’t run out over the weekend. He also had reports from Sugarloaf and Sunday River that reservations for lodging were up over last year. On another topic, Greg pointed out that the Ski Maine Mountain Pass, which is usually sold out by now, is still available. This package has tickets for all Maine areas and are transferable, making them an even better value. For information, call Ski Maine at 207-773-7669 or go online at www.skimaine.com.

In between these events, I have also tuned at least eight pair of skis for my sister, a brother in-law and children and grand children. That only leaves about an equal number of pair that will show up in my basement workshop over the next few weeks.

These are all signs that the ski season is under way at some level. At some point between the Hall of Fame banquet and the ski show, I realized that there would be no more golf this fall, so I changed the picture in the entry way. It shows the same scene — one with a mountain and a golf course in the foreground. The summer version shows golfers on the green and the winter versions shows the same scene with snow and white trails on the mountain. The ski scene will grace the entry way until spring.

The final step is actually making some turns, which is normally reserved for Thanksgiving weekend. With the demos at Sunday River, it gives me a good excuse to confine my turns to the South Ridge beginner slopes where I can stop and see what skiers are trying out. This year the demos followed a snowstorm, but warm weather prevented any but the man-made show trails from being open.

Last Saturday, temperatures got close to 50 degress, and we had the kind of conditions we expect in March or April. It was good for the reps who were adjusting bindings bare handed with no discomfort. During the time, I spent learning how things were going and all were busy setting skiers up with new skis.

The weather this past week was hardly conducive to snowmaking, and when I see a newspaper with a golfer on the front page, I know things need to cool down. Sugarloaf and Sunday River are open, but won’t be able to expand their terrain until we get temperatures in the 20s. The forecast coming into this weekend was for overnight lows in that range so it looked good for snowmaking.

I checked Web sites and made a few phone calls and the project openings are as follows: Mt. Abram next weekend; Saddleback, Dec. 17, Lost Valley, Dec. 21 and Shawnee Peak as soon as weather permits enough snowmaking to open the lifts.

Obviously, it all depends on the weather. The good news is that in recent years all ski areas have been investing in more and better snowmaking. The improvements include adding to water supplies with bigger reservoirs, greater pumping capacities, increased air capacity and updated snow guns. That last one is important. New snow guns are more efficient, producing a higher quality of snow  at higher temperatures. Unfortunately, higher temperatures doesn’t mean above freezing, and blowing snow onto ground that isn’t frozen doesn’t produce the lasting base that is desired.

So pray for really cold weather and we’ll see you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.


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