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Downhill From Here: Sunday River gets in the Santa spirit

Sandy Smith

Concord Monitor sports editor


----- Forwarded Message -----

From: "Tim Jones" <>

Sent: Sunday, December 2, 2012 5:35:51 PM

Subject: Ski Column #7, December 3-8, 2012

Tim Jones

2355 Weare Road

Henniker, NH 03242


Run Dates: December 3-8, 2012

Web Teaser: Web Teaser: Eastern Slopes! Santa Sunday was foggy but fun at Sunday River this year. Read all about it plus great deals at Okemo and Mount Sunapee on our website at [web address].

Photo Cutlines:

Where’s Rudolph 1: Where’s Rudolph when you need him? Santa Sunday (December 2, 2012) brought 294 Santas on skis and snowboards to a foggy Sunday River in Newry, Maine. (Tim Jones/ photo)

Where’s Rudolph 2: Rudolph’s red nose would have been a welcome navigation aid as 294 Santas schussed down the foggy Slopes at Sunday River in Newry, Maine on “Santa Sunday,” December 2, 2012. (Tim Jones/ photo)

Where’s Rudolph 3: These three Santas at the top of the appropriately-named “Risky Business” seemed to be waiting for the fog to clear before enjoying the slopes on Santa Sunday. (Tim Jones/ photo)


With Tim Jones

Santa Sunday

One of the great early-season ski traditions here in the northeast is “Santa Sunday” at Sunday River (207-824-3000; ) in Newry, Maine. Imagine, if you will, 250 or more Santas in complete head-to-toe regalia, all skiing and snowboarding at the same ski area at the same time. Yup, it’s smiles guaranteed.

It’s usually scheduled for the first Sunday in December, and Marilyn and I try to get up every year as sort of our own unofficial kickoff to the holiday season. It really does put you in the spirit, especially when you consider that each Santa had to donate at least $10 to the Bethel Rotary Club’s Christmas charity to participate. In return (and for participating in the annual Santa photo, each Santa gets a ticket for Santa Sunday and a second ticket for another day on the slopes before December 14.

It’s not surprising that online registration for the full quota of 250 Santas took less than two minutes. Competition was fierce. But, somehow, 294 Santas got themselves registered

We don’t own Santa suits and would rather watch the Santas ski anyway. This was the first time we’d wished that Rudolph had joined the party. Parts of Maine were getting freezing rain that day as a warm front pushed in over entrenched colder air. But Sunday River had only thick, thick fog to contend with.

Skiing in the fog is a surreal experience. Everyone was skiing slowly and carefully, picking their way down fog-shrouded slopes. The snow was excellent, the visibility wasn’t. It wasn’t a day for long views . . . If you stopped at the side of the trail, you’d hear the swish of edges biting into what amounted to soft corn snow long before the skier or snowboarded slowly materialized in the mist. If it was a Santa, you’d smile as you watched them float on past.

If you weren’t there, you missed an experience you wouldn’t soon forget.

I’m writing this at the Summit Hotel at Sunday River. Groomers are working the slopes, the forecast calls for overnight clearing, most people have gone home to work and tomorrow should be an epic corduroy day—we’ll be smiling even without Santas everywhere. There’s snow on the slopes! What are you waiting for?

Who’s Open Now?

The weather wizards are calling for a bout of warmer-than-normal temperatures this week. But man-made snow is durable stuff and the skiing this week and next weekend should be splendid. Here’s where to go.


Sugarloaf (207-237-2000; ) in Carrabassett Valley.

Sunday River (207-824-3000; ) in Newry.

New Hampshire

Bretton Woods (603-278-3320; ) in Bretton Woods.

Cannon Mountain ( ) in Franconia, N.H.;

Cranmore Mountain Resort ( 603-356-5544 ; www.cra n ) in North Conway.

Gunstock Mountain Resort ( www.guns t ) in Gilford, N.H.;

Loon Mountain Resort (800-229-5666; ) in Lincoln.

Mount Sunapee (603-763-2356; ) in Newbury, N.H.

Ragged Mountain (603-768-3600; www.ra g ) in Danbury, N.H.

Waterville Valley (1-800-468-2553; ) in Waterville Valley.

Wildcat (888-754-9453; www.skiw i ) in Pinkham Notch.


Bromley Mountain (800-865-4786; ) in Peru.

Burke Mountain (802-626-7300; ) in East Burke.

Jay Peak (802-988-2611; ) in Jay.

Killington (800-621-6867; ) in Killington.

Mount Snow 800-245-7669; ( www. m ) in Dover.

Okemo Mountain Resort, (800-786-5366; ) in Ludlow.

Smugglers Notch (1-800-451-8752; ) in Jeffersonville.

Stowe Mountain Resort ( 802-253-3000 ; ) in Stowe.

Stratton Mountain Resort ( ), in Stratton.

Sugarbush (802) 583-6300; ) in Warren.


Ski Butternut ( 413-528-2000; ) in Great Barrington .

Jiminy Peak (1-800-882-8859; ) in Hancock.

Wachusett Mountain (1-800-SKI-1234; www.w a ) in Princeton.

New York

Belleayre Mountain (845-254-5600; ) in Highmount.

Gore Mountain (518-251-2411; ) in North Creek.

Whiteface ( ) in Wilmington, New York.


Bromont (1-866-276-6668; ) in Bromont.

Mont Sainte Anne (1-800-463-1568; m ) in Beaupre.

Mont Sutton (866 538-2545; ) in Sutton.

Mont Tremblant (1-866-253-0097; ) in Mont Tremblant,

Owl’s Head ( 1-800 363-3342 ; ) in Mansonville, Quebec

Who’s Opening Soon

Mother Nature seems to be cooperating nicely so far this season and, if that keeps up, most areas are going to open on schedule. Here are some projected openings. As always, check before you go.

December 7 : Attitash ( ww w ) in Bartlett, N.H.;

December 14: Black Mountain (1-800-475-4669; ) in Jackson, N.H.

December 15 : Saddleback ( ) in Rangeley, Maine

Here’s The Deal

December 15: Okemo Mountain Resort, ( ) in Ludlow, Vermont has its Cares and Shares Food Drive. When skiers and snowboarders donate at least five non-perishable food items, a new child’s toy or new clothing item, they get a full-day lift ticket for that day for $39.

Volunteers from the Black River Good Neighbor Services Christmas Basket Program will help distribute the donated items to needy families in time for the holidays. In addition to gathering donations for the Cares and Shares Food Drive, Okemo is donating 100 frozen turkeys to the cause.

December 16: Okemo’s sister resort, Mount Sunapee (603-763-2356; www. m ) in Newbury, N.H. has their Cares & Shares Day. Bring five non-perishable food items at the ticket window and get a lift ticket for that day for $35.

* * *

Tim Jones writes about outdoor sports and travel. He can be reached at

Tim Jones

Executive Editor

"Life isn't a spectator sport."


office phone: 603-428-6134

cell: 603-340-4040

2355 Weare Road

Henniker, NH 03242

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