Weather reports warning of an oncoming blizzard striking Maine have put Wayne Keniston in such a good mood that he laughs out loud just thinking about it.

“It’s white gold for us,” said Keniston, who owns Keniston’s Auto & Snowmobile Supplies in Falmouth. His shop was busy all day Monday with customers getting maintenance done on their sleds and buying accessories such as helmets.

For Maine businesses that are involved in winter recreation, the snowstorm is arriving just in time to revive what has been a mediocre season.

Managers of Nordic ski centers in southern Maine say the storm will enable them to open for business, after two thaws this month caused them to shut down many or all of their trails.

For Alpine ski areas, the timing of the storm is perfect – arriving midweek at the end of January. Skiers will have a couple of days to dig out so they can drive to ski resorts this weekend.

The storm will let ski areas open trails that aren’t reached by snow-making guns, and will ensure enough natural snow to last into February – a critical month for the ski industry because of school vacations. Even better, a storm that wallops the flatlands of southern New England gets people thinking about skiing the mountains up north.


“Not only will we be loaded with snow, but everyone else will have skiing on the brain – once they dig out, of course,” said Rachael Wilkinson, spokeswoman for Shawnee Peak in Bridgton.

Winter tourism is a big deal in Maine. The Maine Snowmobile Association says that industry generates about $350 million in spending annually, including gasoline, restaurants and hotels. Maine’s ski industry generates about $300 million a year, according to estimates from Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine, an industry group.

Jessie Hill, manager of Carter’s X-Country Ski Center in Oxford, said he’s been frustrated this winter watching television weather forecasters cheerfully predict rain instead of snow. The “r-word,” he said, ruined his ski center’s trails this month.

Much of southern Maine has been off-limits to both Nordic skiers and snowmobilers this winter. Even in Aroostook County, the trails this month have been hard-packed and pocked with bare spots, said Jean Ouellette, former president of the International Snowmobile Association and owner of Martin’s Motel in Madawaska.

“Six inches will help, and 12 inches will be better,” she said. “We will take everything we can get at this point.”

Ouellette said she doesn’t understand why people who live in Maine complain about snow.

“If you don’t want snow in the winter, you shouldn’t be in Maine,” she said. “If you want the rain and you want the warm weather, you should live in Florida. That’s what Maine is all about – snowy winters. The winter is long enough here, you should find something to do outside rather than sit and complain about it.”

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