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DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Sugarloaf joins list of early-opening ski areas

  • This could  have be en you carving turns on opening day at Sugarloaf! (photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort)

    This could have be en you carving turns on opening day at Sugarloaf! (photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort)

  • This could  have be en you carving turns on opening day at Sugarloaf! (photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort)

Have you skied yet this year? No? I haven’t, either. But it won’t be long now, maybe only a matter of days.

I have been to the Boston Ski Show, which was a veritable hotbed of unbridled optimism and pent-up demand after the “winter that wasn’t.” Everyone I met said they just can’t wait to get on the snow and play.

I saw lots of folks headed out the door with new skis, boots, parkas and, of course, discounted lift tickets. Even Tim Kelley and Matt Noyes, the weather prognosticators from NECN, both avid skiers, were smiling when they talked about the winter to come. Maybe they know something we don’t.

Last week, I reported that Sunday River, Killington and Okemo were open for business. Last Friday, Sugarloaf (sugaloaf.com) in Carrabasset Valley, Maine, joined the elites – at least for the weekend. It closed on Monday, planning to reopen tomorrow. Such are the ups and downs of the early season, when it always pays to call ahead or check the website before you launch a ski expedition.

Since then, despite a weekend warmup, most of the open resorts have at least maintained what they are offering and, in some cases, have actually added terrain. As I write this, there’s some rain in the forecast, possibly to be followed by snow at higher elevations and overnight temps in the 20s. That sure won’t hurt.

So, let’s get this straight. There are at least four ski areas open for business and most of us haven’t gotten out yet. That means there’s snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?

Everything old is new again

Bretton Woods is proving once again that every good idea deserves a second chance. Last year, it opened some new gladed terrain on Stickney Mountain, but didn’t have much snow to work with.

This year, Bretton Woods announced that it is putting in a lift to service this new gladed terrain. But, instead of putting in a new glitzy-glammy high speed lift that would have dumped hundred or thousands of skiers per hour onto limited terrain, it’s gone retro and put in a brand new t-bar that will carry only a few hundred skiers a day into the wilds. That means fewer but better runs on better snow. Hooray! I hope more ski areas follow that lead. When it comes to ski lifts, less is often more.

Ribbon cutting for the new lift (and a new 600-square-foot log warming hut) is scheduled for Dec. 12. Let’s hope the snow is so deep by then that skiers have to duck under the rowers as they ride the new t-bar.

Here’s the deal

The quad pack (four anytime lift tickets for $100) I told you about at Bolton Valley last week suddenly has company. Sugarbush Resort (sugarbush.com) in Warren, Vt., is offering its own version – four tickets for $199, which is a 44-percent saving off the regular weekend/holiday rate.

Ski NH is also in the quad-pack business, offering savings of $10 to $26 off normal weekend/holiday lift tickets. Participating mountains include Loon, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Waterville Valley, Gunstock, Mount Sunapee, Cranmore, Ragged, Black, Pats Peak, King Pine, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge and even tiny McIntyre. For details, go to skinh.com or call 800-887-5464.

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

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