Sugarloaf (ski resort)

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This article is about a ski resort in Maine, USA. For the mountain by the same name, see Sugarloaf Mountain (Franklin County, Maine).
SUGARLOAF
SUGARLOAF logo skime.png
View of Sugarloaf from the Whiffletree SuperQuad
View of Sugarloaf from the Whiffletree SuperQuad
Location Carrabassett Valley,
Franklin County,
Maine
 United States
Coordinates 45°01′53″N 70°18′47″W / 45.03139°N 70.31306°W / 45.03139; -70.31306 (SUGARLOAF)
Vertical 2820 ft (859 m)
Top elevation 4237 ft (1291 m)
Base elevation 1417 ft (432 m)
Skiable area 1,400 acres (570 ha)
Runs 154
Longest run 3.5 mi (5.6 km)
Lift capacity 21,810 Skiers per hour
Terrain parks 3 (+ Superpipe)
Snowfall 200 in. (10 year average)
Snowmaking 95%
Night skiing No
Web site Sugarloaf.com

Sugarloaf (formerly Sugarloaf/USA) is a ski area and resort located on Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, western Maine. It is the largest ski resort east of the Mississippi, in terms of number of skiable acreage (1,400 acres or 570 ha) and snowmaking percentage (95%); its continuous vertical drop of 2,820 feet (860 m) is the second longest in New England (after Killington's 3,050 feet (930 m)).[1] Sugarloaf recorded a total of 352,000 skier visits in the 2005–2006 season, ranking it second among Maine resorts and 11th in New England, according to Ski Area Management magazine.[2][3][4][5]

At 4,237 feet (1291 m) Sugarloaf Mountain is second in elevation to Maine's highest peak, Mount Katahdin. The summit of Sugarloaf offers the only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the Northeast.[4] The Appalachian Trail crosses within 0.6 miles (0.97 km) of Sugarloaf's peak and the summit offers 360 degree views of Maine's western mountains and New Hampshire's White Mountains.[6]

As of March 2010, there were 54 miles (87 km) of marked trails and a total of 651 acres (263 ha) of developed trails. There were 1,400 acres (570 ha) of skiable area boundary to boundary. The fifteen chairlifts have the capacity to carry 21,180 skiers per hour. There are also 138 marked trails and glades, most of which are named after logging terms in a tribute to Maine's logging history. Trails include thirty-four rated as green circle (25%), forty-four blue square (32%,), thirty-nine black diamond (28%), and twenty-one rated double black diamond (15%). There are also twenty glades (13%), and three terrain parks. Lifts include two SuperQuads, 3 high-capacity quads, six doubles, one triple, one T-bar, and one carpet surface lift. The Sugarloaf season runs from mid-November through early May.[4][7]

Terrain[edit]

The resort is divided into several areas.

Whiffletree, located on the eastern side of the mountain, and serviced by the Whiffletree SuperQuad, a high-capacity detachable quad built by Garaventa CTEC. It services beginner to intermediate terrain, such as Whiffletree, Cruiser, and Buckboard.

King Pine Bowl, located in the eastern bowl and serviced by the King Pine Quad. King Pine Bowl can also be accessed by the Skyline Chair via Spillway X-Cut or from Whiffletree. It services intermediate terrain such as Boomauger and Ramdown, and expert terrain such as Haul Back, Widowmaker, Flume, Misserywhip, and Ripsaw. The Cant Dog glade can also be accessed from this lift. Cant Dog is an expert glade with tight trees, cliffs, and waterfalls.

The Timberline Quad services the summit of Sugarloaf. Formerly in the place of the current Whiffletree Superquad, Timberline services easy runs such as Timberline and Tote Road start at the top terminal of this lift. The Snowfields can also be reached from this lift, with trails like White Nitro (New England's steepest lift serviced trail) and High Rigger, also known as the "Backside Snowfields".

Spillway is serviced by the Skyline, and the Bateau #3 T-Bar. Off the top of Skyline, Spillway cross cut leads to expert trails and glades.

SuperQuad is the most popular lift on the mountain that services advanced, intermediate, and a few beginner trails. West Mountain is serviced by the West Mountain Chair, and the Bucksaw Chair (Sugarloaf's first chairlift). Bullwinkle's Grill, an on mountain restaurant, is located at the top of these two chairlifts, and right off the Tote Road Trail.

Lower mountain, or the beginner area, is serviced by a few lifts. Double Runner East & West (mid station down), Skidway, Sawduster, Snubber, and the Moosecalator (Carpet). Trails such as Boardwalk, The Landing, and The Birches are accessible beginner trails from these lifts.[8][9]

Terrain Parks: Sugarloaf also has three different terrain parks. There is a Small (Skybound), Medium (Stomping Grounds, Haywire), and Large (Haywire, Sidewinder) jump park, and a Superpipe.

Sugarloaf Panorama.jpg


History[edit]

The Beginnings: 1950–1960[edit]

The first trail was cut at Sugarloaf in 1950 by the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club and a group of locals known as "The Bigelow Boys". Led by Amos Winter, along with Stub Taylor, they transformed the mountain into what is today one of the largest ski areas in the Northeast. Many documents relating to the founding and early years now reside at the Ski Museum of Maine in Kingfield, Maine.[10]

In the summer of 1950 Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club was formed and club member Amos Winter and many volunteers helped cut the first trail up Sugarloaf Mountain, appropriately named Winter's Way. It wound down the Mountain with a 1,800 vertical foot drop and was cut in many places across the hill. Amos noted later that this trail was flawed in its design.[10]

In 1952, the first of many ski races was held on Winter's Way.

In 1953 a 700 ft (210 m) rope tow was installed up the lower part of Winter's Way, which was a gentle slope and could be used by beginners and intermediates, while it helped take a few steps out of the hike for experts.[10]

In the summer of 1955 the ski club issued stock and formed the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation and the first T-Bar was installed. It ascended some 900 vertical feet from the base (a warming hut) and was capable of carrying some 600 skiers per hour. The Narrow Gauge trail was cut to skiers' left and Sluice to skiers' right.[10]

A year later in the summer of 1956 another Constam T-Bar was purchased and installed. This T-Bar ran from the top of the first T-bar up into the snowfields another 2,600 ft (790 m) away (This T-bar is in the same place as the current #3 T-bar is today, and the first T-bar was in the place of current "Long Side" or Double Runner West).[10]

In the summer of 1959 the base area was relocated some 250 feet (76 m) down the hill. A two-story lodge was built and another T-bar added to service the beginner area.[10]

Sugarloaf/USA 1960–1971[edit]

1962 seasons pass
Sawduster Chair

During the Summer of 1961 the #4 and #5 T-bars were installed on the east side of the mountain. They opened up the area that is now called Whiffletree and King Pine Bowl. The #4 T-bar stretched about 4,600 ft (1,400 m) up the mountain (longest on the mountain to date) and could load 774 passengers per hour, while the #5 T-bar stretched 3,160 ft (960 m) and could load 630 skiers per hour (the present day trails which were the old t-bar lines are Springboard and Misery Whip). This terrain would become a favorite of former Sugarloaf General Manager and Maine Ski Museum President John M. Christie.[10]

As of late 1961 electricity only went as far south as Sugarloaf (from the south through Rangeley via Rangeley Power Company Lines west to Eustis, and then south into Carrabassett Valley). The efforts of Leo Tague, a motel owner, brought power to the valley in the beginning of that winter.[10]

During the summer of 1964 the lift line had already been surveyed and cut, even before the final decision had been made on what kind of lift would be installed. When the decision was made to go with a Gondola, the next decision was what model it would be. Wildcat Mountain in Jackson, New Hampshire had a two-passenger gondola, but this didn't seem like it would be quite the right fit. It was decided to be a four-passenger Polig-Heckel-Bleichert (PHB, a German aerial ropeway company) because it would both protect passengers from the harsh winter weather, and in the summer could be open for tourists. This decision was made after King Cummings, George Cary, and John Christie, made a visit to Park City, Utah (Park City Mountain Resort), which had just installed a similar lift. In the summer of 1965, Sugarloaf installed "The Mighty Gondola", a four-passenger PHB, 8,430 ft (2,570 m) aerial lift, rising convert2350 vertical feet to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.[10]

In 1965 Sugarloaf Mountain used Ad-Media, an Augusta, Maine-based advertising agency to help publicize the new and expanding Sugarloaf. Walt Ernst, a copywriter, came up with the idea to ad USA to the name Sugarloaf, hence becoming Sugarloaf/USA, which helped to imply size, scale, and international stature to the mountain.[10]

In the summer of 1969 the first chairlift was installed to the west of Tote Road. The chairlift, Bucksaw (which is still in use in most of its original state), carried 945 passengers per hour up 1,200 vertical feet and over a mile. It opened up new intermediate terrain referred to now as West Mountain.

The second chairlift was installed in 1970 when Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation (SMC) bought the Sugarloaf Inn. This lift, Sawduster, was installed to carry passengers from the Inn to the Base Lodge.[10]

In the winter of 1967 the NCAA Intercollegiate Skiing Championship was held at Sugarloaf. For this a 35-meter jumps was constructed in the valley of the former narrow gauge railroad bed behind the former Red Stallion Inn .

This was the time when the Heavyweight Ski Racing came to be. The brain child of Bud Leavitt, from the Bud Leavittshow on channel five in Bangor.[10]

During the season of 1970–71, there had been very little snowfall throughout Europe. This meant the that World Cup had to look elsewhere to host its races There were a few other choices in North America, since Sugarloaf was already scheduled to host a World Cup Downhill and Giant Slalom and the only mountain that was large enough to host a downhill, the Arlberg Kahndaharone of the most prestigious alpine ski races was moved to Sugarloaf. This is the only time that event has ever been held outside Europe. So in 1971 two separate World Cup Competitions, with a total of six events were held at Sugarloaf/USA. Thousands of spectators and world class ski racers showed up from around the world, including Italian Star Gustavo Thoeni (who came onto the world stage at this race), along with Annie Famose, Annemarie Proell, Bernhard Russi, and Karl Schranz.

The notoriety of such a world famous race flung Sugarloaf onto the world stage. At this point it was obvious that Sugarloaf with its international stature truly deserved the name SUGARLOAF/USA.

-A quote from John Christie, in his book, The Story of Sugarloaf[10]

The Tall Timber Classic is an alpine race course held on Sugarloaf's Narrow Gauge Trail. It has hosted the World Cup (1971) and three U.S. Nationals (1996) (2006) (2008) events, along with many other Downhills and Super-G's. Statistics for the Tall timber classic include a men's downhill vertical drop of 2,430 feet (740 m) and length of 8,220 feet (2,510 m); a women's downhill vertical drop of 1,957 feet (596 m) and length of 6,850 feet (2,090 m); a men's giant slalom vertical drop of 1,347 feet (411 m) and length of 4,830 feet (1,470 m); and a women's giant slalom vertical drop of 1,347 feet (411 m) and length of 4,830 feet (1,470 m).[10]

Growth and expansion: the 1970s[edit]

Condominiums built during the 70's

During the early 1970s there was a lack of snowfall throughout the Northeast. This event and the 1967 Oil Embargo a few years earlier would set Sugarloaf on a path towards bankruptcy a decade later. This lack of snowfall did have some positive effects however - snowmaking was installed. In 1973 Sugarloaf was unable to make any snow for December. Saddleback, located in nearby Rangeley, Maine did however have snowmaking (it was limited to the Wheeler Slope).[10]

On October 26, 1971, the residents of then Jerusalem Township voted 21–13 to incorporate and create the town of Carrabassett Valley, Maine. The first town meeting was held the next year on April 26, 1972. Crocker and Wyman Townships declined to join Jerusalem township at first, but Crocker township joined the next year. The town would play a huge role in the development of Sugarloaf/USA and the nearby Sugarloaf Outdoors Center.[10]

Valley Crossing was built by the Airport, where the Fire Station, Town Hall, and many other local government and private buildings are located. The Valley Crossing Complex included ski shops, restaurants, condos, and commercial shops. Due to its location, however, the entire Complex was moved up to the base of Sugarloaf.

In the summer of 1972 WTOS-FM "The Mountain of Pure Rock" radio station out of Skowhegan, Maine began transmitting from a radio tower perched on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.[10]

In the summer of 1973 two more lifts were installed, Double Runner East and West. They replaced the #2 T-Bar and were extended down further to be closer to the base lodge. They were both Borvig Double Chairs. They both had an uphill capacity of about 1,200 passenger per hour, and the two lifts are 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and 3,100 ft (940 m). These lifts are both still in use today.

Because of the lack of snow for the 1973-74 season, SMC decided to install snowmaking. The first trail to have snowmaking installed was Narrow Gauge, where it was installed top to bottom.

That same summer the Spillway Chairs were installed. Spillway East, rated one of New England's best double chairs, stretched about 4,020 feet (1,230 m) long with a vertical rise of 1,500 ft (460 m), and could carry about 1,200 passengers per hour. The #3 T-Bar is still in operation today, and operates on busy days and when wind is too strong to allow for the Spillway Chairs to run.[10]

With all the new real estate development and an increase in skier days, the power supply was becoming a problem. This changed however in 1975 when Rangeley Power Company was purchased by Central Maine Power (CMP). CMP built a new transmission line from the Wyman Hydro Dam in Moscow, Maine. Additionally, Carrabassett Valley annexed Sugarloaf Township (formerly Crocker Township).[10]

Mountainside Corporation and the Appalachian Trail[edit]

A view from the rerouted A.T.

Several important developments occurred in the late 1970s. On June 25, 1976 Mountainside Corporation was created to take charge of developing and marketing real estate development on Sugarloaf. Mountainside sold the Sugarloaf Inn to Peter Weber. Mountainside is responsible for the condos built along Buckboard off Whiffletree, and many other projects important to Sugarloaf's growth.[10]

During this summer, the Appalachian Trail was moved from the summit of Sugarloaf, to over the summit of Crocker Mountain. In 1978 a fleet of Piston Bullies was purchased for grooming; this became necessary because of the lack of natural snow. Larry Warren, appointed President in spring of 1979, negotiated the purchase of 1,170 acres (4.7 km2) of land on the adjoining, Burnt Mountain, for future lift and trail development. At the end of the 1970s Sugarloaf/USA had an uphill capacity of more than 9,000 skiers per hour.[10]

The 1980s and 90s[edit]

With the help of Peter Weber, a golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, was constructed at the resort. At the same time, the Carrabassett Valley Academy was also founded. The cost of building new real estate and overruns, along with the lack of natural snow and snowmaking, put SMC in debt.[10]

In the year 2000, Sugarloaf/USA officially celebrated its 50th anniversary. The celebrations included a new color scheme which included orange, introduced for the year. In just fifty years Sugarloaf had moved from a mountain with just one trail, to one with over one-hundred-and-thirty trails, fourteen lifts, and had hosted World Cups, U.S. Nationals, and many other ski and snowboard events (Pictured is the Sugarloaf Logo with the orange scheme).[11]

New ownership: 2007–Present[edit]

In August 2007 Sugarloaf was sold by American Skiing Company to CNL Lifestyle Properties, to be managed by Boyne USA Resorts. CNL/Boyne also purchased Sunday River, another Maine ski area owned by ASC.[12]

Under new management, the resort promptly began performing overdue maintenance and upkeep that had begun to be neglected during lean ASC years. This included dismantling the old Gondola mid-station building, re-painting and maintaining lifts, towers, and buildings that were showing signs of neglect, and making significant upgrades to the resort's snowmaking system.[13] Boyne USA Resorts also removed the "USA" from "Sugarloaf/USA."[12] Boyne also installed the Moosecalator, a Magic Carpet, on The Birches Slope.

During the Summer of 2008, Sugarloaf saw more than $5 million in offseason upgrades, including all new pumps for the snowmaking system, 25 new Boyne Low-E fan guns, and 50 low energy HKD tower guns. The resort also installed all new trail signage, replaced old, run-down lift shacks with new lift building, and completely redesigned its Terrain Parks, including a new snowboardcross course designed by Olympian Seth Wescott. The resort also saw a significant expansion to its on-mountain restaurant, Bullwinkle's.[14]

In the fall of 2009, Sugarloaf and Boyne, with the help of Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott are trying to team up with the town to help purchase a new "signature lift". Seth Wescott presented a proposal during a town meeting to see if the town would help finance for a new $10 million gondola that would run the same path as the original gondola.

It has been announced that in the summer of 2011 a new fixed grip quad chairlift will replace the aged Spillway lift (completed). Also for the 2011 ski season cutting will begin on phase two of the Burnt Mountain Expansion and the Drive system in the SuperQuad will be upgraded from analog to digital.

On December 28, 2010 the Spillway East double chair derailed, sending some passengers on a 30-foot (9.1 m) fall.[15]

Resort activities and amenities[edit]

Sugarloaf is home to six on mountain restaurants, including: 45 North (Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel), Shipyard Brewhaus (Sugarloaf Inn), The Rack (Access Road), Gepetto's (Village West), The Bag & Kettle (Village East), and the Widowmaker Lounge (Base Lodge), which also includes a bar and nightclub.[16][17]

Turbo Tubing was discontinued during January 2009. It was located in front of the Base Lodge, on The Landing ski trail, and was serviced by the Skidway Chairlift. It operated on select nights such as weekends and holidays. Previously it had been located east of the Whiffletree and featured high-speed tracks with a large hill at the base to slow the tubes. Riders used a handle-tow line which has since been removed. It has since been replaced by Kids Tubing which uses the same tubes but only runs about 300 ft (91 m) next to the Moosecalator, and is serviced by that lift.[16][18][19]

The Sports and Fitness Center is located on Mountain Side Road, and includes an indoor pool, hot tubs (indoors and out), a weight room, racquetball courts, and a full spa. There is also a hairstylst located upstairs in the center.[16][20] Sugarloaf has nine shops located between Village Center, Village West, Village South, and the Sugarloaf Hotel. They offer everything from skis and snowboards, to apparel and jewellery, along with photography supplies and gifts. There are also many shops and outlets located in the nearby towns of Stratton and Kingfield.

The Anti Gravity Center is a 20,000 square foot facility located at the base of the mountain. The complex includes a rock climbing wall, skate park, work out area, and set of olympic trampolines.[21] It is home to Maine's largest indoor skate bowl.[22]

A zipline tour was introduced in 2011 and runs in the summer and winter seasons.[23] It is built in the old path of the historic Sugarloaf gondola, which was taken down in 1997.[24]

Summer activities[edit]

Sugarloaf offers many on-mountain summer activities such as golf, hiking, mountain biking, ziplines, and court sports such as tennis and basketball.

Public transportation[edit]

The Sugarloaf Explorer is a free public transportation system that services the resort. It features eight bus routes linking residential neighborhoods, condominiums, inns, and hotels in Carrabassett Valley with the Sugarloaf Base Lodge, the Outdoor Center, and local shops and restaurants.[25]

There are no regular service coach buses, commercial airline flights, or rail service to the mountain. The closest bus service is Augusta (80 miles), which is served by Greyhound Lines and Concord Coach Lines. The closet commercial airline service is also Augusta, which is only served by Cape Air. However, Portland International Jetport in Portland (134 miles) is served by eight different airlines, including low-cost carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran Airways. Amtrak also serves Portland, with five round-trip trains daily on the Downeaster.[26][27][28][29]

Notable residents and skiers[edit]

Bode Miller, one of Sugarloaf's most notable skiers
  • Kirsten Clark - US World Cup & Olympic Ski Team Member. US National Downhill Champion
  • Jeremy Cota - Member of the US Ski Team
  • Emily Cook - US Olympic Freestyle Team Member
  • Jeremy Jones - 7-time Snowboard Magazine Big Mountain Rider of the Year
  • Joan McWilliams - US National Freestyle Champion
  • Bode Miller, alumnus of Carrabassett Valley Academy - 2004/2005; 2007/2008 Alpine Overall World Cup Champion
  • Julie Parisien - US World Cup & Olympic Ski Team Member. US National SL/GS Champion
  • Paul Schipper - "Ironman of Skiing"; world record holder for 3,903 consecutive days skied
  • Seth Wescott - 2006 and 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist, Snowboard Cross, co-owner of The Rack
  • Dennis Parsons - Legendary liftie who worked at Sugarloaf for 37 years.[30]

Mascots[edit]

Sugarloaf is home to three mascots: Amos the Moose, Blueberry the Bear and Pierre the Lumberjack. Amos' cabin is accessible off of the Moose Alley trail.[31]

Lifts[edit]

  • Snubber- Borvig triple servicing condos and beginning skiers (Installed 1985)
  • Sawduster- Stadeli double servicing the Sugarloaf Inn, and beginning skiers (Installed 1981)
  • Moosecalator- Magic Carpet servicing beginning skiers
  • Skidway- Borvig double servicing beginning skiers (Installed 1970)
  • Whiffletree SuperQuad- Garaventa CTEC high-speed detachable quad servicing beginner to intermediate skiers (Installed 1997)
  • King Pine- Borvig quad servicing expert terrain, including Brackett Basin (Installed 1988)
  • Double Runner East- Borvig double servicing beginning skiers (Installed 1974)
  • Double Runner West- Borvig double servicing the t-bar (Installed 1973)
  • Bateau(Number 3)T-Bar- plastic and rope t-bar, used frequently because of its high wind resistance (Installed 1956)
  • Skyline- Doppelmayr CTEC fixed grip quad servicing intermediate to expert skiers (Installed 2011)
  • Sugarloaf SuperQuad- Garaventa CTEC high-speed detachable quad servicing intermediate to expert skiers (Installed 1994)
  • Timberline- Borvig quad, the only lift to the top of the mountain, servicing beginner to expert terrain (Installed 1997, moved from location of Whiffletree)
  • Bucksaw- Stadeli double, the oldest chair on the mountain servicing intermediate skiers (Installed 1969)
  • West Mountain- A Borvig Double servicing condos, and the golf course (Installed 1984)

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Sugarloaf (ski resort) at Wikimedia Commons

Gallery[edit]