Many skiers think of the season being underway when they actually make those first turns.

That day for me is well after a number of events leading into the season, and this year was no different. The big preseason ski sales come when a lot of ski areas have homecoming weekends — Columbus Day.

With crowds of skiers visiting the areas to have their pictures taken for season passes, the ski shops open, at least for the weekend, with the big sale signs out. The next big event was the annual Maine Ski Hall of Fame banquet at Lost Valley on  Oct. 24. As usual, a capacity crowd was on hand.

On Nov. 1, we traveled to Killington for the annual New England Ski Museum “Spirit of Skiing” award, which this year went to Killington founder Preston Smith. This, too, was a reunion of skiers, although from a wider area, and Smith looked great for a man of 84. He confided to me that he never envisioned himself living year-round in Florida, but said he was enjoying it. Building a ski area that not only led his region but made a profit for 40 straight years certainly earned a comfortable retirement.

Next came the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo, the annual show and sale at the Seaport World Trade Center. This year, Bernie Weischel, who operates the show and his annual awards luncheon on Friday, added a new wrinkle. The usual displays by ski resorts from New England, North America and Europe, along with equipment booths from all the top ski equipment companies were on hand, but Bernie added a new theme.

Along with many in the ski business, Bernie has tired of so many couch potato weather forecasters telling everyone about the danger of the wind chill and cold weather and advising them to stay in. To help combat this attitude, he had 10,000 pins made up declaring, “I’m a Hearty New Englander, & I Love Winter.” The crowd at the luncheon and at the ski show gobbled up the pins and my grandchildren will be wearing them to help get out the word.


One part of my early-season routine involves ski tuning. My sister brought in her skis at the end of the last season for tuning and storage treatment. The only difference is that once the edges were taken care of, the universal wax was left on the base without the scraping to provide extra protection over the summer. She stopped by last week to have me apply the hot wax iron to the base to soften the wax and scrape it off.

Three brothers in law will also show up and some children and grandchildren’s skis will see the workbench in my basement tuning center. Although I can tune the skis, I cannot release check the bindings and I tell them to have that done at their ski shop. A lot of shops include this service as part of a tuning.

On the topic of bindings, I have already seen skis carried on top of cars without any protection. While the first I saw were in warm weather, and there was no road salt or grime to coat them, this is an important consideration once we start getting snow. The same stuff that coats your windshield can do a number on your skis and bindings. Today’s shorter skis can often fit inside the car, especially in SUVs where they can slide under the seats. Many cars have fold down gaps between the back seat and the trunk allowing them to be transported inside if you don’t need all the space in the back seat. There are binding covers for skis carried on roof racks, and ski bags are even better. I invested many years ago in a ski box for the roof rack. The skis are protected from the elements and they are out of sight of potential thieves. In summer, lightweight suitcases go in the box so heavier golf clubs can be carried in the back of the wagon.

Take care of the skis and they’ll take better care of you.

My first turns are usually made the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My normal routine is to make a few runs on the Mixing Bowl beginner area at Sunday River where the demo tents are set up. I don’t try any skis as I tried them last February, but I do talk with the reps about how sales are going at their shops, especially those in our area. I don’t bother going up on the mountain, preferring to wait for more trails to open and to ski midweek, when there is less traffic.

If you’re thinking of new skis, the demos will be at Sugarloaf next Saturday. Registration is in the Maple Room in the base lodge. There is a $5 fee and usually identification is needed. The vendors will be set up at the base of the Super Quad. If you’re headed for Sugarloaf over the weekend, stop by the Ski Museum of Maine for their annual open house Friday from 3-8 p.m. The museum is located over the Sugarloaf Ski Shop in Kingfield.

The early cold weather in November allowed the bigger areas to make plenty of snow and the big warm up at the beginning of last week only slowed things down. The snow that followed took care of resurfacing of the trails already open and the snowmakers have returned to covering more terrain. The big goal, as always, is to open as much as possible by Christmas and if we get normal temperatures we’ll have plenty of skiing by then.

Of course, that means we have to plan our skiing around shopping, which I do by visiting ski shops on ski days.

See you on the slopes.

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