News from the snow
Sugarloaf / USA USA
Sugarloaf/USA is a huge mountain with some of the most exciting and challenging terrain anywhere. The resort is famous for the Snowfields - New England's only above tree-line skiing, beneath them is a huge assortment of terrain for all ability levels. The ski area, now 50 years old, was established by the Maine Ski Council which had been formed in 1948 to promote skiing. The first trail, Winter's Way, was cut throughout the summer of 1950 and Sugarloaf/USA opening for skiing the winter of 1951. The current renaissance of Sugarloaf/USA started five years ago with a major expansion of the snowmaking system, making it among the most powerful in the world. For the first time, snowmaking covered the above treeline Front Face Snowfields. Next came the addition of the longest fastest chairlift in North America, the Sugarloaf/USA SuperQuad, along with trails like King's Landing and Hayburner that are Sugarloaf/USA favourites. The American Skiing Company's acquisition of Sugarloaf/USA in 1996 brought on the largest expansion in the history of Sugarloaf/USA for the 1997/98 season. The $3 million expansion with two new quad chairlifts, four new trails and 100 new tower snowguns was a direct result of a long-standing commitment to the guest experience. The new quads opened up the summit and east mountain like never before. The summit access means experts can enjoy the above treeline Snowfields more often than the old wind-sensitive gondola allowed. Skiers and riders can choose four top-to-bottom intermediate cruisers on a consistent basis. Off the slopes Sugarloaf continues to expand with ever more slopeside lodging being added, including an American Skiing Company Grand Summit Resort Hotel. Despite its slopeside expansions, Sugarloaf's roots continue to be firmly based in the surrounding communities of Carrabassett Valley.
Award-winning on-mountain village beneath Maine's second highest peak, regarded by many as the top New England resort and by all as in the 'top 3'. Strong emphasis on service quality has resulted in top slot in US ski magazine reader surveys. The ski school at Sugarloaf have come up with a clever idea for transporting kids - the Moose Caboose - a snowmobile sled which takes 12 children and 3 instructors.
Perfect Turn Clinics are on offer to skiers and 'boarders several times a day and you just turn up for as many as you like. Level One is for those who have never skied or snowboarded. Levels Two and Three are geared towards novice skiers and riders. Levels Four and Five take intermediates to the next level. Levels Six to Ten are for advanced intermediates and experts with concentrations on varied snow surfaces, terrain features, competitive skills and tactics.
First timers are likely to start off on The Birches and The Landing. This is the learning area of Sugarloaf/USA and is serviced by two double lifts; Sawduster and Skidder and one triple lift, Snubber. The terrain is gently sloped for those skiers and riders who are just starting out. One big advantage is the lift loading areas are downhill from the base lodge, so beginners can become comfortable on their skis or boards during their initial run down the hill before getting on the lift. Slightly steeper slopes are available at The Double Runner Area including lower Winter's Way, Boardwalk and Lower Narrow Gauge, all trails that stretch over half a mile and are characterized by gently sloped terrain - wonderful for polishing up those developing skills. Two double chairlifts, Double Runner East and West, service this area.
The Whiffletree and West Mountain areas areas have nice wide cruising trails that allow developing skiers and riders to practice their skills. Buckboard and Cruiser offer gentle, slow-winding true fall line trails, while Springboard and Pole Line offer more challenging terrain. The other runs in the Whifftletree area offer something in between.
For steeper descents The King Pine Bowl is a natural snow bowl serviced by the King Pine Quad. From the top of the bowl, skiers and riders have a choice of black diamond "most difficult" and blue square "more difficult" terrain. Haulback is a steep fall line trail that features bumps on one side and groomed conditions on the other side. Ripsaw a favourite among locals, is one of the "Wild Things," a trail kept in its natural state. With no snowmaking and no grooming, Ripsaw is the local's favourite.
Choker, Widowmaker and Flume all have steep fall line pitches and serve as downhill training runs for the U.S. Ski Team. However loyal Sugarloafer's believe Central Mountain is the East's most legendary terrain. It offers some of the steepest terrain in the East along with a long continuous fall line. Go east off the Spillway chairlift and drop into several different chutes and trails including Upper Winter's Way, Gondola Line, Bubblecuffer, Lower White Nitro and Lower Powder Keg for steep trails, and Max Headroom and Cant Hook for glade terrain. Take one run down Bubblecuffer and you can see why Sugarloafers are so loyal. Go west off the Spillway chairlift and find the famous trails of Sugarloaf/USA. Narrow Gauge, the trail of champions, is the only trail in the East that FIS has homologated for all venues: Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. Skidder is a world class mogul run.
Advanced skiers will also want to try out Boundary to Boundary skiing. It's not part of the mountain, rather a license to explore. Boundary to Boundary encompasses the resort's 570 hectares (1400 acres) of terrain. The resort warns that it requires additional skill and caution and those trying it should always ski or ride with two or more people.
Children six weeks to five years-old attend the Sugarloaf/USA Child Care Center. Bleepers are given out to parents of nursing children. Organized games, activities and crafts are offered to all ages. The Perfect Kid programs are designed for fun and learning. Mountain Magic reveals the fun of skiing to children four to six years old. Organized games, activities and crafts also make up the day. Mountain Adventure is for children seven to 12 years of age. Sugarloaf/USA mascots, Amos the Moose, Blueberry the Bear, Lemon the Yellow-Nosed Vole and Pierre the Lumberjack, are the heart of the children's programs at Sugarloaf/USA.
The mountain has special terrain for families and children to enjoy, including Moose Alley - an Alpine Playground full of fun and surprises. It's for kids only and the secret entrance is off the Cruiser trail. Stop by at Amos the Moose's Cabin for hot chocolate then wind your way through the Yard and the Rapids, carving over the varied terrain that the kids will love!
Off the slopes the Sugarloaf/USA Fun Center provides evening activities for ages six to 12 year olds including games night, movie night (PG or G), arts and crafts, talent show, theme nights, sledding, ice skating, turbo tubing and lots of special events. For 13-17 year olds, the Avalanche Club for teens offers video games, ping pong, big screen T.V. movies, DJs, munchies and special events. The whole family will enjoy torchlight parades, fireworks, live entertainment, snowshoe safaris and turbo tubing.
In addition to daily and weekly family events, the resort has a regular mid-January Children's Festival Week. There's special events and high value with children 12 and under receiving free lift passes, free Perfect Kids clinics and free ski rentals when Mom & Dad book a three night midweek stay at Sugarloaf/USA during the week of January 10-15, 1999. Similar 'Family Fling Weeks' offer similar deals in February and March.
For less up market fayre the Widowmaker lounge has a complete lunch menu. The Bag and Kettle is famous for its burgers, Gepettos for its hearty American fayre, Papa Gino's for pizza and D'Ellies for sandwiches, salads and homemade soups.
The Sugarloaf Brewery Company offers another wide selection of microbrews. Local Carrabassett Ales, Misery bitters and Dead River Potters are all on tap for a relaxing après ski 'mug o' frothy.'
Sugarloaf also offers a halfpipe, also 400 feet long, with ten feet (3.2m) high walls that are ideal for confidence building.
Sugarloaf/USA has been the host of numerous snowboarding and halfpipe competitions beginning with the 1995 US Snowboard Champions and the 1996 inaugural US Snowboard Grand Prix.