There are a number of kickoff dates for any ski season.

Columbus Day weekend is homecoming for a number of ski areas, and we have had the annual Maine Ski Hall of Fame banquet at Lost Valley the fourth Friday in October for the past 11 years. It’s always a popular event, and 290 were in attendance this year to recognize a group of outstanding skiers and their contributions to Maine skiing.

For the past few years, the Ski Museum of Maine has hosted a ski season launch party in the Portland area. This year’s took place at Morong Volkswagen in Falmouth, where an old film, “From Tree to Ski,” was shown. The film showed how skis were made at Paris Manufacturing in the 1930s, starting with logs being sawn in their mill and through the process of turning that lumber into skis. This year a soundtrack was added, with Lou McNally giving the narrative. It’s an interesting piece of Maine’s ski history that was donated to the museum by the Morton Family of South Paris, owners of the plant.

My next outing was to Boston for the annual Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. This is always a good event with a chance to catch up with folks at ski areas and equipment reps. The show runs Thursday through Sunday and draws as many as 45,000 skiers who visit all the booths, signing up for drawings for free lifts tickets and countless other items. They also carry out skis, boots, ski wear and accessories from the giant sale that takes up a big chunk of floor space.

Maine was represented by the Ski Maine Association, along with individual booths from Saddleback, Shawnee Peak, Sugarloaf and Sunday River. In addition to ski areas and resorts around New England, skiers had a chance to learn about destination resorts from more distant mountains. As always there was a strong contingent from Quebec, where Mont Tremblant was making noise about this coming year being their 75th. There also were resorts from Western Canada as well as our own Rockies. Europe was well represented as well, so skiers could plan any kind of ski vacation.

It certainly gave me ideas about this winter’s travel, and at the moment it appears that Tremblant will be on the list. I first skied this venerable mountain in 1980 and have returned several times, watching it grow into one of the most complete destination resorts in North America with the investment of over one billion dollars by parent company Intrawest.


Another highlight of the show is the annual luncheon to present the BEWI Award. This is put on by Bernie Weischel, who puts on the show to recognize someone who has made a significant contribution to skiing and this year’s award went to Bill Stenger.

As president of Jay Peak, Stenger has used the EB 5 program to raise millions for investment in the resort. The result is a golf course, three hotels, a regulation indoor ice rink and an indoor water park that is attracting visitors year round. Jay always has a great mountain and gets tons of snow, but Stenger’s vision has turned it into a year-round destination and an economic base for the Northeast Kingdom, one of the poorest areas in Vermont.

And he is taking it further, having taken over Burke Mountain and improving that resort as well. Stenger’s next step is a marina on Lake Memphremagog to further improve the economy of Newport. This is an example of how a ski resort can be much more than a place to ski and can really add to the economy of a region. It’s also a reminder of how much skiing means to the economy of the towns around our ski resorts here in Maine, where the sport adds more than $300 million to the state’s economy.

Once I was home from Boston, the focus turned to preparation for my own opening day. As I always tune my skis each spring and add a coat of protective wax for the summer, all my skis needed were a waxing iron to soften that wax and a scraping to prepare them for the first runs. I also tried on my boots and wore them for about 30 minutes to make sure that my feet hadn’t changed over the summer spent in much softer footwear.

The big sale at the show reminded me that after this week, we’ll have only about three weeks to finish our Christmas shopping. Fortunately, the ski shops are full of gifts for skiers. Skis and boots are the big items, and those certainly require some input from your skier. But there are plenty of items, such as gloves, goggles, tuning tools and wax that every skier can use. ]

You can also go on line to and check out the on line store. It’s new, so the selection isn’t yet expansive. But if your skier is a Sunday River or Sugarloaf skier, books on the history of each area are available. Check the site and for even more ski related gifts check the New England Ski Museum website,

Finally, there is the actual opening day, the day we put on the skis and make those first turns. For me, it’s always the Saturday after Thanksgiving which was late this year, but that meant we had more trails open to ski. My runs were confined to the Mixing Bowl beginner area at Sunday River, where the reps were set up with their demos. I get to make a few runs to get the kinks out and see what skiers are trying out. Now I have to get out and ski at least two days next week to be on schedule to ski at least 40 days this winter.

If you missed the demos at Sunday River, they will be at Sugarloaf next weekend, so you can find out which model to ask for this Christmas. See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: