What could be better? We have a large supply of snow, the result of snowmakers and plenty of natural snowfall, the sun is higher, the days longer, the light is better early and late, and the really cold weather is behind us.

We could even get a lot more snow. It’s March, always my favorite month to ski. It’s hard to believe that March is already here. I feel sorry for non skiers or anyone who feels Maine winters are too long. I have never had that feeling and skiing is the reason. Now as we head into March with all the trails open, it’s time to take a look at the calendar of events planned by ski areas for the month ahead.

While we watched the Olympics, the competitors here at home were preparing for their season finales, many of which take place in March. Some of the Olympic athletes will be returning to face more competition. The World Cup season for Alpine skiers will continue and March 19-23 The U.S. National Alpine Championships will be held at Squaw Valley in California. The U.S. National Freestyle Championships will go March 27-30 at Heavenly, Calif. Both events will be opportunities for our younger skiers who weren’t in Sochi to compete against the returning U.S. Team in hopes of making a mark and getting onto the team in the future. The U.S. Alpines have been contested at Sugarloaf numerous times and could return, but for this year they are in California.

Maine will see plenty of competition with Sunday River hosting several events. March 2 is the USASA half-pipe competition, March 6, the U 16 Eastern Alpine finals, March 15 the Lib Tech Neo Canada Open free snowboard jib and half pipe. The big event will be the annual return of the Dumont Cup March 28-29. This free skiing and riding contest is open to amateurs and professionals and usually features Dumont himself. We’ll have to get an update on his injuries before saying he will be competing, but competing or not, he plans to be on hand. The best part of these events at Sunday River is they are all a short walk from the Barker Base Lodge and a lot of the action can be viewed from the deck.

Also on the 29th is the annual Skiathon for Maine Adaptive Sports. This event has raised millions over the years and provides for 70 percent of the program’s annual budget. What started out as Maine Handicapped skiing some 30 years ago is now Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation and has branched out from Sunday River to several ski areas throughout the state, operating winter and summer. You can get involved in several ways. The organization operates with volunteers who work as instructors and guides and help in the base buildings to outfit the participants with equipment. You can participate in the Skiathon by either raising a team or joining a team. You can also do as I do by pledging to help sponsor a member of a team as they reach out for pledges. For details on the Skiathon check the web site www.maineadaptive.org. You can also check with your favorite ski area to volunteer in their program.

Mt. Abram has a number of events this month, Full Moon Hike and Wild West Festival March 5, the Becky Shaw Ski Day, March 6, Winterkids Downhill March 8, and Winterkids Family Day March 23.

Among the events at Sugarloaf are the USSA Hole Shot Tour, March 3, the 4th Annual Banked Slalom the 15th, and the Winter Triathlon the 29th. This 20 K event includes a 10 K cross country race, a 5 K snowshoe leg and a 5 K winter run.

Shawnee Peak has along list including the Break the Sound Barrier Race today to raise money to help the hearing impaired and Super Hits, Big Air Bag event. The 7th is Ski New England Day with $19 lift tickets for anyone with proof of residence in New England, and the Cardboard Box race the following day. The 9th is retro ski day, with the Mattress race the 15th and Spring Fling the 22.

Saddleback has a full lineup starting with Maine Day today where Maine residents ski for $29. Next Saturday is the annual Telemark Invasion and the Ski Museum of Maine will have a display and will be selling raffle tickets for a pair of skis and other prizes to be drawn after the lifts close. Saturday the 15th will feature the annual ski patrol auction, with a card board box race on the 22nd and Pond Skimming the 29th.

My favorite event outside of Maine takes place at Mount Cranmore in North Conway. The Meister Cup is one of the best historic gatherings anywhere. There will be parade of vintage ski wear and equipment, a big ski race and the 10th Mountain Division will be represented by veterans of the original division from World War II and a team of current members. The current troops are stationed at Camp Drum in upstate New York. Cranmore is loaded with history and skiers are greeted by a statue of Hannes Schneider as they drive into the drop off area. The famed Skimeister’s son Herbert was a member of the 10th in the Italian campaign and was always at Cranmore until his death a couple of years ago.

Finally there is one day in March that marks the beginning of spring skiing. Saint Patrick’s day comes on Monday this year, but look for a lot of ski areas to have some offerings on Sunday the 16th. With any kind of luck, we’ll have a full month of skiing following the big day for the Irish. If you’re Irish (Isn’t everyone on Saint Patrick’s Day?), you have my permission to take the day off to ski. See you on the slopes.


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