Each week, I have to come up with an idea for this column. While many come from emails announcing results, such as Michaela Shiffrin tying Lindsey Vonn’s World Cup victory total, that was just a matter of time as Shiffrin’s dominance in World Cup Slalom assured most watchers that once she got in enough races she would tie Vonn and go on to post a new record for total wins.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

Fortunately, as a Slalom and GS specialist, she was unlikely to suffer the serious injuries that often hit the speed skiers in Downhill and Super-G. It is easy to note that the all-time total is held by Ingemar Stenmark, who piled up his wins in gate races. And that total of 86 is now in Shiffrins’s sights.

Newspapers also play a part, and naturally Shiffrin’s win was in this and other papers. But a couple of other stories were more important to local skiers.

One big spread was all about the big ice storm in 1998 on the 25th anniversary of that event. That one didn’t focus on skiing, as more than two-thirds of the state lost power, some for weeks. All ski areas got hit in the pocketbook as the big Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend was lost, always a major chunk of any ski area’s season revenue.

One ski area hit truly hard was Shawnee Peak, which was recently renamed Pleasant Mountain. The Bridgton area was hit especially hard, losing power for a couple of weeks. The demand for electrical work was so high that finding crews to work was difficult. Shawnee’s association with its parent company was a major benefit, as they were able to get crews from Pennsylvania to come to Maine and work at the mountain.

Before the area could reopen, trees and limbs had to be removed from lift cables and power lines. Light towers were down, as well, so while crews worked on electrical problems, others worked clearing trails. General manager Ed Rock relayed that due to the area being without power, the workers were fed with BBQs. Ed singled out Mike Keeley, of Keeley Electric in Portland, for bringing his workers up to get things put back together so the area could reopen once the power was restored. Keeley has been a lifelong skier at Pleasant Mountain, with a place just off the mountain.


There is a full chapter of my book, “Shawnee Peak at Pleasant Mountain,” devoted to the ice storm and its aftermath, but you will have to buy the book for that. Future printings will carry the new title, “Pleasant Mountain, Maine’s oldest continuously operated ski area,” as the book is mostly about the history of Pleasant Mountain before it was owned by the Shawnee Group from Pennsylvania.


Another big story involving a ski area was all about a new competition, but not on skis. Ice Cross is coming to Lost Valley Feb. 10-12. The courses are similar to ski cross, with banked turns and jumps and skaters competing four at a time on the course. Only in existence since 2015, the All Terrain Skate Cross Federation is the world governing body for the sport.

Most of what we see of speed skating is in the Olympics, with skaters in skintight suits and long blades. This is not what we’re going to see at Lost Valley.

Having grown up as a speed skater, I can say from experience that traditional speed skates would not be suitable for this event. Look for these competitors to not only be wearing hockey skates, but also dressed in hockey-style uniforms with full padding. Ski cross is the only event on skis with multiple competitors on the course at the same time. Even dual slalom pro style has the skiers on different courses, even though they are parallel.

I learned from John Herrick, Lost Valley’s general manager, that the course will be built along the outside of Squirrel. That allows the rest of the trails to be fully open to skiers.


The U.S. Ice Cross Association will be at Lost Valley to build the course a couple of weeks ahead of the event. The best way to see the entire course will be to ski along Squirrel to view the action from different spots. It will also be possible to walk to the bottom of the course from the base lodge, and the lower part of the course will be visible from the terrain park.

There will be no charge for spectators, although a lift ticket will be needed to follow the action by skiing down Squirrel. Look for me there. I don’t walk when I can ski.

Given the hockey tradition at local schools, the Lewiston-Auburn area has plenty of skaters who might like to try this event, and there will be an opportunity before the competition.

My only viewing of this event was a video of a competition at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City a few years ago, and it is an action-packed event. Quebec is also on the list of this season’s World Championship series, of which the Lost Valley event is a part. All of the information is on Lost Valley’s web site, lostvalleyski.com.

See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist who hails from Westbrook. He has been contributing to the Sun Journal for many years and is among the most respected ski writers in the Northeast. He also is a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Write to him at DaveiSkiGolf@aol.com.

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