NEWRY — While shoppers rushed to stores early Friday to cash in on the first of the holiday-season deals, Maine skiers and snowboarders were flocking to the slopes to enjoy extra-early, extra-good snow conditions, thanks to a storm that walloped the region Wednesday night.

“This is the best conditions have been for Thanksgiving Day weekend in the last five years,” said Mosley Taylor, a 20-year-old college student from York who was snowboarding at Sunday River on Friday.

Taylor was with his friend, Genevieve Gosselin, also 20, of Nashua, N.H.

Gosselin, home on break from college in Florida, said she didn’t mind the dropping temperatures so much, especially since the snow was so good.

Resort officials have said the ski area received 15 inches in the Thanksgiving Day storm. While it’s not uncommon for Sunday River, which has one of the largest and most advanced man-made snow-making systems in the U.S., to be open for the holiday, it’s rare the resort gets a giant boost this early from Mother Nature.

The resort bumped up its snow-making with 172 new, high-efficiency snow-making guns, part of an overall $5 million in off-season improvements that were invested in the ski hill. And while light, natural snow was falling Friday, adding another inch to the snowfall total for the past 48 hours, the resort’s snow-making crews took advantage of the dipping temperatures and continued to make snow on several trails.


“These cold temps are ideal for snow-making, so regardless of the 15 inches that fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning, we were planning to make snow, especially after investing in even more efficient guns this season,” resort spokeswoman Sarah Devlin said.

She said with four of the resort’s eight peaks now open, the snow-making crews were focusing on North Peak and the ski area’s new T72 terrain park, also part of the investment made over the summer.  

But the new, natural snow was helping the bottom line for the resort, as ski traffic was up 25 percent from a typical day after Thanksgiving, Devlin said.

On Friday, Sunday River reported 27 trails on about 150 acres, totaling 10 miles of skiing.

Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, the other Maine resort that’s already open, reported it had 14 trails on about 85 acres of terrain, totaling nine miles of skiing.

Both resorts are owned and operated by the same company, the Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, which operates 11 ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada.


Mike Murphy, 50, of Auburn, Mass., was skiing with his daughter, Molly Murphy, a student at the University of Maine at Farmington. 

Both Murphys have been skiing since they were about 4 years old and were tuning their telemark skills in a section of moguls on the Sunday Punch trail Friday. 

“For the day after Thanksgiving, it’s really just excellent,” Mike Murphy said. “I would even say I think they have Killington beat.”  

Killington in Vermont is one of  New England’s largest and busiest ski resorts and is known for its early- and late-season snow conditions.  

While the Vermont resort had reported less total snowfall from the Thanksgiving Day storm, it was still gifted with 7 new inches. On Friday, the resort reported 37 open trails with about 11 miles of skiing on 163 acres of terrain.

Enjoying the day as much as anybody Friday was Patrick Brown of Pittsfield. Brown’s season pass features his nickname, “Peg Leg Pat.” 


“I literally have a peg leg, the result of a sky-diving accident,” Brown said.

Brown, who had been skiing all day, lost his lower right leg five years ago in the mishap, but he was going strong late into the afternoon.

A member of the Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation race team, Brown was honing his turns for the Hartford Ski Spectacular event in Breckenridge, Colo., for adaptive athletes next week. Brown was on his fifth ski day of the season, and Friday was among the best of them.

“Things just seem to be getting better and better,” Brown said. “It’s awesome — while not the best conditions ever because they aren’t February conditions yet — but when you think what we were doing last year at this time, we were sitting at home, waiting for snow, I’ll give it four out of five stars.”

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