2008-11-26 / Front Page

Snowmaking makes it happen at Sugarloaf

By David Hart Irregular Staff

Irregular Staff

CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Sugarloaf kicked off the 2008-09 winter season on Friday, Nov. 21, opening with skiing and riding on five trails covering 1,750 vertical feet —all serviced by the SuperQuad chairlift. This was able to occur due in large part to offseason upgrades to its snowmaking system. Snowmaking temperatures dropped just last week and Sugarloaf with its new improvements flipped the switch and put down tons of the white stuff.

"Offseason enhancements to Sugarloaf's snowmaking system increased the resort's snowmaking capacity and allowed for snowmaking on all five opening day trails simultaneously," according to Sugarloaf spokespersons.

These upgrades include six new water pumps, 50 new HKD snow-guns, 25 new Boyne proprietary Low-E Fan guns and new snowmaking pipes all the way to the summit.

"We invested a lot in our snowmaking system here this summer, and I think we're seeing the payoff already," said Rich (Crusher) Wilkinson, Sugarloaf's Vice President of Operations. "The new equipment has allowed us to make more snow faster than ever before, and as a result we should have some of the best opening day conditions we've seen in a very long time."

According to the trail reports, Sugarloaf opened with skiing and riding on Tote Road, Lower Tote Road, King's Landing, Candyside and Pinch. On Sunday, Hayburner became ready and groomed, al- though the SuperQuad was on wind-hold. According to Sugarloaf's Web site, Sluice and the Stomping Grounds will be ready this week.

"I know it was a long wait," Sugarloaf General Manager John Diller said on the company's community forum, "but after seeing the conditions out there I think we can safely say it was worth it. In all my years at Sugarloaf, yesterday's conditions were some of the best I can remember on an opening day."

Within the resort's early season tradition, Tin Mountain Round Up was held on Saturday and Sunday. The food drive agreement was that skiers and riders could purchase lift tickets for only $25 when they donate three or more cans of food. The annual food drive helps restock the shelves at local food banks.

So, what were skiers and riders greeted with this past weekend for the anticipated investment of $5 million in offseason improvements under the ownership of Boyne, USA?

Last Friday, they returned to the slopes and saw the snowmaking upgrades up close and personal and the massive snow guns that go with it. They witnessed the beginning of new terrain parks and the base for a massive halfpipe in a spectator friendly location. They saw all new on-mountain signage throughout, Base Area upgrades including a redesigned Beach area, and a new addition to Bullwinkles Restaurant for added capacity. They viewed newly rebuilt lift buildings and freshly painted lift towers.

According to a host of announcements, to learn more or to book a Ski and Stay Package, Skiers and Riders can go to www.sugarloaf.com or call 1-800-THE-LOAF to see what's available at affordable rates. The booking deadline for early season rates is Dec. 15.

"Thanks to our new pumps, new snow-guns, and all of our other upgrades we made, as well as our as our hard working snowmaking crews," Diller explained, "we were able to make more snow in our first week then ever before, with as many as 140 snow-guns online simultaneously. That's a 44 percent increase over what we could have done last year under similar conditions."

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