Have you considered ski racing?

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

Most recreational skiers rarely, if ever, get into running gates. But many do on a regular basis, which explains why adult race leagues are so popular. Of course, there is also NASTAR racing at a number of areas, but that doesn’t require a regular commitment.

There are two leagues here in Maine that I know about: The Baxter Brewing league, where nine teams totaling 130 racers compete every Thursday evening at Lost Valley from 6-8 p.m. And Racing with the Moon at Pleasant Mountain. The racers at Lost Valley enjoy a buffet every race night. I don’t know what is furnished at Pleasant Mountain, but I am sure the racers congregate après ski in Blizzard’s Pub.

While I have never been part of a team, I have been on hand for a few nights of racing, and I know that the camaraderie is a big part of the attraction. Lost Valley’s Scott Berube told me a team called the Vertical OutLaws are the defending champions and expected to be in contention when the awards are handed out at the end of the season. It may be too late to get involved this season, but all you need to do is be on hand on a Thursday night at either ski area to see what goes on.

I also received a couple of emails that might interest readers, and they reminded me of some of my travels to ski. One was from Paul Marssall, who was with Ski Utah and is now doing some consulting on his own. One of his clients is Ski Butlers, and both emails brought them to mind.

One email was advertising a company that ships skis. That one touched several memories. For example, I have never spent a night in Denver, but my skis have spent a few there at the airport. On one occasion, my skis were delivered to my hotel room in Crested Butte as I was booting up. Before I could head for the lift, I had to spread all of the underwear and turtlenecks that were packed with the skis around the room to dry. Obviously, the time they spent in Denver was outdoors at the airport. That was when I learned that anything packed with skis in bags should be in plastic bags. I can understand the idea of shipping your skis to ensure they arrive on time. But now that high-performance skis are available for rental just about everywhere, I will carry on my own perfectly fitted boots, but will rent skis.

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The other email mentioned Ski Butlers, and that is an equipment rental service run by CVA grad Brynn Carey, son of former VP Marketing at Sugarloaf Chip Carey. Instead of wasting time waiting in line at a rental shop, Ski Butlers bring the equipment to your room the evening you arrive so you can go directly to the lift your first morning to ski. It’s a good service and in most of the major western resorts. Because I know I can order ahead to have the exact skis I’m using ready for me, I don’t need to ship skis. So if we’re planning a western trip this season, I would contact Ski Butlers and reserve my skis so I don’t need to ship any. And I always carry on my boots.

Which brings me to another important travel point. I have a pair of boot bags, both with back straps. The one I use locally for skiing by the day is large enough to also carry my helmet. The other smaller bag will fit under the seat in front of me and is comfortable to carry through airports.

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 [email protected]


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