Saturday at midnight, we bid adieu to 2011. Toasts were made, champagne quaffed, and decisions regretted. And we reached the ever-popular Jan. 1 tradition — New Year’s Resolution. What better promises to make for 2012 than resolve to take on some skiing-related tasks?

Repeat after me. I resolve to…

… explore more Maine ski areas. Though Maine has nearly twenty ski areas, most of the attention of skiers (and the ski press) is focused on just a handful of resorts. This is a shame, since every one of Maine’s slopes is worth visiting. Take the Camden Snow Bowl, where skiers can see the Atlantic Ocean from the trails, or the unique Powderhouse Hill rope tow, which is still spun by a 1938 Ford Truck motor. Though it’s a long haul to reach Big Rock, Quoggy Joe and Lonesome Pines in Aroostook County, they offer a chance to ski at three wonderful community hills that are among the furthest north in the continental U.S.

… ski green. Skiers and snowboarders are in the paradoxical position of being lovers of the outdoors, but participants in sports that aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly. As we commune with nature on the slopes, we use energy-hungry lifts and swish down trails that may have disrupted animal habitats and caused erosion, on manmade snow that draws from the local watershed.

Thankfully, many Maine ski areas are making moves that can assuage our collective conscience. Mt. Abram of Greenwood is a leader in sustainable skiing, with a number of green initiatives under way. The wood pellet boiler in their new lodge replaced an oil-burning boiler, and a low energy snowmaking project cut energy usage nearly in half. The resort even rewards conscientious travelers by offering special low-cost tickets to carpoolers on Carload Fridays — just $75 for tickets for everyone in the car.

… get off the beaten path. Of course, one of the easiest ways to ski “green” is to hike yourself into the backcountry. Maine is rich with slopes that are far from any developed resort. David Goodman’s Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast ($19.95, AMC Books), offers an excellent introduction to both the best practices and finest locations for backcountry skiing in Maine and New England.

From the gentle slopes of Acadia’s carriage roads to the incredible steeps of Katahdin, Goodman covers trails all over the state, for every skill level. A handful of Maine outfitters, including Aardvark Outfitters and Cadillac Mountain Sports, cater to backcountry skiers and can equip you with everything you need to ski off-off-piste.

… put friends on skis or a board. Many of us are flummoxed by friends who gripe about winter here in Maine. After all, isn’t this — rather than hot, tourist-clogged summers — the season we all look forward to? More often than not, these complainers aren’t skiers, and it’s worth resolving to get them out on the hill.

January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and many ski areas nationwide are offering free and discounted lesson programs for the whole month — the perfect excuse to get your non-skiing friends and family on the slopes. On top of the national initiative, Ski Maine runs their popular Get-A-Lift contest (which awards family learn to ski and ride packages) and a kids Learn to Ski or Snowboard event at the Payson Hill Terrain Park located in Portland’s Payson Park.

Along with these, I’ve got the two resolutions that every skier and rider makes — to do my snow dance, and get on the hill even more than last season.

Happy New Year!


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