By Abby Pomerleau, Contributing Writer
Left to Right: Simon Kern, Ryan Townsend and Sam
Scheff skiing and snowboarding at Sugarloaf Mountain.
Photo submitted by Abby Pomerleau.
The UMF Freeride team is making the most out of their season with weekly practices and optional competitions. The United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) competitions are not being held this year, but the Freeride team is still enjoying the opportunity to ski. “Everyone on the team is still giving it their all and is continuing to push themselves because with or without competitions everyone just loves the sport in general,” said Bridget Stephenson, a sophomore who skis on the Freeride team.
Although there are no USCSA competitions, there are a few small competitions available to anyone and require a payment of $120. Some members of the team are planning on participating. “I’m really glad we have this opportunity to compete,” said Ryan Townsend, a junior who also skis on the Freeride team. “It gives us the ability to use the new skills we have been working on in a competitive setting.”
The Freeride team practices at Titcomb Mountain on Thursdays and Sugarloaf on Saturdays. The team also visits the Anti-Gravity Complex (AGC) next to Sugarloaf once a week to use their trampolines. This allows the team to work on new tricks before they try them on the slopes.
Being on a ski team provides the members with a COVID-safe social experience. “I really like to be around people with similar interests as I do,” said Townsend. “Everyone is really cool and very supportive.” By being on the Freeride team, it allows for its members to do what they love while meeting new people.
Regardless of the lack of regular competitions, ski season looks relatively normal to the Freeride team. “Everyone still gets to go skiing together and supports each other to try new things,” said Stephenson. “Everyone on the team is there to do what they love, so even if there wasn’t a team we would all be out there anyway. The lack of competition doesn’t stop us.”
Skiing isn’t just about the competitions for some of the team members. “Skiing has fully shaped my experience here at UMF,” said Townsend. “For me, being outdoors is a major part of my life and skiing contributes to that. Although we can’t regularly compete, skiing on this team is important to me and how I spend my time here at UMF.”
Like Townsend, many UMF students enjoy skiing as a hobby. Titcomb Mountain is roughly 5 minutes from campus, while Sugarloaf is roughly 55 minutes from campus. Having these mountains relatively close to UMF allows students to have the ability to ski when they please.
The Freeride team loves when newcomers join the team. “Everyone on the team is so welcoming and there are people on the team from all ski levels,” said Stephenson. “We have people who are completely new to park skiing and snowboarding, and people on the team who are nationally ranked, so there are plenty of people to seek advice from.”
To join the Freeride team, email the Snow Sports Director, Scott Hoisington, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natausha Cogley, Contributing Writer
Winter is right around the corner and this means that Saddleback Mountain will finally be open after being shut down for five years.
Saddleback Mountain is located in the Rangeley Lakes Region and is about an hour away from UMF. They are hoping to open on Dec. 15, just in time for the 2020-2021 ski and snowboard season. After being closed for nearly five years, the mountain was purchased and some big changes were put into place. There is now a brand new high-speed quad ski lift, renovations to the lodge, and investments on new snowmakers.
The mountain has 66 ski trails. The Royal Tiger, one of the easier trails on the mountain, is in the middle of the slow zone that contains over half the easy trails on the mountain. “[The slow zone] is a great place to freshen up your skills or hit the mountain for your very first time,” said Olivia Hall, a Rangeley local and avid skier.
Saddleback is one of the biggest ski destinations in the state, which means there’s lots of trails for even the most experienced skiers and riders to choose from. Hall recommended Golden Smelt as one of the best trails. “Golden Smelt is my favorite trail because it’s easily missed and not a lot of people can find it. So there’s always a lot of powder on it,” said Hall.
As the weather gets cooler at UMF, skiers are itching to try out the new Saddleback. “I haven’t been able to hit the trails on Saddleback since 2015,” said Mary Swiney, a sophomore from Rangeley. “I feel the newly renovated lodge and the new ski lift will significantly improve the mountain and make it more enjoyable.”
Rumors are flying about how the Saddleback will look and feel compared to before Saddleback closed in 2015. “I haven’t seen the new lodge yet, but I heard they’re expanding the upstairs and working on a restaurant,” said Hall. There’s expected to be some big changes that everyone is looking forward to.
From now until Thanksgiving, Saddleback is offering a discounted full season pass to college students with a valid college ID for $324. The normal price for a college student pass is $449.
For more information on their newest additions, renovations, and updates, follow their Instagram @saddlebackmaine, like their Facebook page, or go to their website at https://saddlebackmaine.com.
Krystin Paine Contributing Writer
With the winter season creeping upon us, UMF students are getting excited about ski season. Skiing is one of the most popular outdoor winter activities Maine has to offer and a great way to make fun memories with friends and family.
Priyanka Miller, junior and psychology major, has been skiing since she was five years old. “It’s like a freeing feeling to be skiing down a mountain.” Miller said.
“My fondest memory of skiing is when I went with a few friends and we were teaching one of my friends how to ski,” said Miller, “One of my friends almost fell down the mountain but it was just really fun and it was just really nice to hangout with them.”
Garrett Pooler, sophomore and rehabilitation major, has never been skiing but is willing and excited to try this year. “My friend, Noah Erskine, was the one who convinced me to try skiing this year,” Pooler said. “I’m looking forward to learning how to ski. I’m also a little nervous because it is mildly dangerous.”
“I think it will be a fun new experience that all my friends can enjoy doing together,” Pooler continued. “I plan to go skiing at Titcomb Mountain some time during the winter, hopefully as soon as it opens.”
Emily Murphy, senior and rehabilitation major, recalls the first time she skied. “It was absolutely amazing. I didn’t really know how to ski but I yeeted downhill going full speed screaming as everyone on the ski lift watch me from above” she said. “Then, I crashed at the bottom but popped right back up laughing because it was the most fun I had all semester. I was happier than Eloise on a Friday afternoon.”
“I would love to go this year and have another great experience. It would be silly not to take up the chance to go,” said Murphy, “I skied at Titcomb Mountain and it is so inexpensive and reasonably close to campus.”
Chivan Panosain, sophomore and undeclared major, has been skiing around two years. He usually skis at Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley and Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. “I like the thrill of going fast down the mountain,” Panosain said, “The first time skiing, I went to the top of the mountain at Sugarloaf. It was absolutely beautiful. Looking down from the top, I saw everything covered in snow. The view was amazing.”
“Definitely almost hit a tree, though,” said Panosain, “I had to throw myself to the ground to stop. At the time, I didn’t know how to. I was zooming.”
“I am so very excited for ski season,” Panosain continued. “I can’t wait to try doing tricks on the rails and other stuff. I just want to improve my ability.”
Noah Erskine, sophomore and secondary education, has skied since 5th grade. “I remember one time, a bunch of my buddies and I loaded the car and went to Sugarloaf,” said Erskine. “We got to the mountain and it was a very nice day. The lines were very short. This made it easier to go up the hills and trails quicker.”
“Hitting the rails was such a thrill,” Erskine said. “My adrenaline was pumping because it is very dangerous to do tricks. Each time improving every trick made it easier to go down the mountain.
Some places to ski or snowboard around Farmington are Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, and Sunday River in Newry, or Lost Valley in Auburn.