The Jordan 8 debuts this winter at Sunday River and is billed as the fastest eight-person chairlift in North America. (Sunday River)
Improvements in snowmaking, faster chairlifts, and refurbished base areas highlight the many new wrinkles being added to ski areas and resorts across New England this season.
Here’s a rundown of everything new to expect this winter when you make your first turns in Maine.
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort made major upgrades to its snowmaking system, installing a new booster pump house on West Mountain that will increase water pressure to new, high-efficiency snow guns. The booster will also allow for more snow guns to run, simultaneously, on the mountain, which should provide more early-season terrain. Sugarloaf continues to make progress on its West Mountain expansion, with a new lift (a high-speed, detachable quad) among the improvements slated for 2023-24.
The resort has also partnered with Carrabassett Valley Academy to put in a new competition surface lift (T-bar) located between the competition hill and Narrow Gauge trails in order to service Alpine racers during training and competitions.The resort also purchased the Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield, which will provide expanded housing opportunities for Sugarloaf staff members beginning this winter.
Loon’s “Kanc 8” is about to have a cousin in Maine.The Jordan 8 iswill debut this winter at fellow Boyne property Sunday River, the latest step in the resort’s 2030 capital plan. Servicing terrain on the Oz and Jordan Bowl peaks, the chairlift, billed as the fastest eight-person chairlift in North America, features ergonomic, heated seats, and the “first weather-blocking bubbles in the world,” built to sustain the bitter Newry wind, in the resort’s signature “Sunday River Red.” The lift aims to increase capacity by one-third. This part of Sunday River will come to be known as the Western Reserve as future terrain development plans come to life in the several thousand acres of land beyond Jordan Bowl. Snowmaking upgrades were also made in order to double capacity in Jordan Bowl.
The Jordan 8 is one of three chairlift upgrades to come in the next three years. Last summer, Sunday River installed a Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple chairlift on Merrill Hill, a new real estate development featuring mountaintop home sites. Merrill Hill’s lift and ski terrain are expected to open this winter.
Boyne Resorts also purchased Shawnee Peak last year. It announced earlier this year that the Bridgton, Maine ski area would return to its original name; Pleasant Mountain.The name change honors the 84-year history of Maine’s first ski area. The name, Shawnee Peak, was chosen for the mountain by the group that assumed ownership of the ski area in 1988, specifically to create brand alignment with another of its ski areas, Shawnee Mountain, in Pennsylvania. According to a release, “generations of loyalists have remained vocal and enthusiastic about the preferred name of their beloved ski area. Feedback gathered in a recent survey was overwhelmingly in support of bringing back the original name.”
Now entering its third season owning Saddleback, Arctaris Impact Investors, LLC has already invested more than $30 million at the ski area, revamping the base lodge, adding chairlifts, and snowmaking. This season, Saddleback will debut its much-anticipated mid-mountain lodge, as well as its $4.5 million, 100-bed employee housing complex. It will be the first ski-in/ski-out employee housing project of its kind in Maine.
Saddleback will also debut the Sandy Quad lift which will serve the Wheeler slope. It will allow for quick terrain park access and will also give access to the Cupsuptic T-bar on wind hold days. The new lift has a carrying capacity of 1,600 people per hour with a ride time of less than four minutes.
Beginning Jan. 5, Black Mountain of Maine‘s L.L. Bean days return. The ski area will offer lift tickets for $15 on Thursdays, $25 on Fridays (Note: deals are not offered during school vacation weeks).
Listen: New England Ski Journal Basecamp podcast on the resurrection of Saddleback Mountain: