AUBURN — The cold is coming and Scott Shanaman is ready.

Or just about.

On Saturday at Lost Valley, lift chairs were being repaired, belts on the grooming machine tweaked, tower pads installed and even the septic system was getting an update.

Shanaman, the resort’s new owner, plans to fire up the snow guns on Sunday — there are now 51 instead of 16 — and open for the season Wednesday.

The eight weeks since he and his wife, April, signed a purchase and sale agreement for Lost Valley have been a balance of getting ready for the new season and catching up on routine maintenance, Shanaman said. 

“Nothing was done from the day this place closed last year, not a thing,” he said.

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The 56-year-old resort came close to not opening last winter after owners went public with financial issues. The community rallied and it did open with the snow. 

Since taking over, Shanaman has replaced damaged ceiling tiles, moved the ski school and retail shop, redesigned the cafeteria, added a coffee bar, cleaned from top to bottom and started to redecorate inside the lodge.

Outside, signage has been replaced, the parking lot graded and 60-plus stumps removed from the ski hill, making it easier to cover the slopes with less snow, he said.

He’d hoped to open Dec. 18, then Dec. 26, depending on the weather.

“It’s not the start I wanted; it is what it is,” Shanaman said. “This weather is as bad a start as there’s ever been in New England ski area history.” 

Other mountains have pitched in as he’s taken over. Camden Snow Bowl gave Lost Valley 10 chairlift frames in trade. Shanaman plans to rotate those into the first lift, fixing up 10 at a time, then pulling 10 more for makeovers.

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Sunday River helped with track belting for Lost Valley’s snow groomers. Sugarloaf gave Shanaman tower pads — foam padding to wrap around the lift tower bases, making them safer. Lost Valley had used hay bales before. Even used, the pads would have cost several thousand dollars.

“They’re not in immaculate shape, but they’re better than what we had, which was nothing,” he said.

Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said the pads came from its West Mountain lift, which had gotten newer replacements, and that they were happy to do it.

“Sugarloaf has been very, very kind to us; Sunday River as well,” Shanaman said. “We’re important to them. This place used to be — and if I have anything to do with it, will be again — the most important feeder ski area in the state of Maine for those guys. I don’t care where you go, you run into somebody that learned to ski at this place.”

Lost Valley’s season pass sales are up 30 percent over last year. He’s hoping to read that as a vote of confidence in the new ownership.

Once it opens Wednesday, the resort will stay open seven days a week, until 9 p.m. most nights. Tickets will range from $25 for anyone Monday to Thursday to $45 all day for adults on weekends.

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“I am excited to take a first run,” Shanaman said. “I’ve got skis in the back of my truck, ready to go.”

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Saddleback management: This ski season is a go

Saddleback Mountain will open this year, according to a post on its website.

The message reads in part: “Our prospective new owner and the Berry Family feel confident that we will complete a transaction, opening by late January.”

It breaks nearly two months of public silence and months of speculation over the resort’s fate. Saddleback had announced last summer that it needed $3 million in financing for a new lift in order to open this winter. 

The mountain is offering season-pass holders three options, from a full refund to bonus resort credit, for their patience.

Saddleback’s general manger didn’t respond to a request for comment Saturday night.


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