SKOWHEGAN — Nine-year-old Addy Lee of Venice, Florida, had never seen snow before, let alone race down a mountain on a snow tube.

But there she was Monday, flushed from a fresh slide down the snowtubing hill at Eaton Mountain Ski Area in Skowhegan.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “It’s fast. It’s cold.”

Addy’s mother, Katrina Raymond, who said the family moved from Waterville to Florida a few years ago, where Addy was born, said she didn’t go down the hill Monday, but her daughter and her cousin, Peyton Michaud, 11, of Fairfield, did.

“She loves it,” Raymond said. “She’s made snowmen and this is her first time sliding down it, so it’s been wonderful. She was nervous at first, but once we got up here she thought it was awesome. She’s been happy.”

Her cousin, Peyton, got to be the first one to ever throw a snowball at her, she said.

“It was 86 yesterday in Venice,” Raymond said.

And it appears that snowtubing at Eaton Mountain isn’t just for kids.

Cory Church, 30, of Waterville, received a verbal warning for hot-dogging it at the end of the tubing course.

“I feel like I’m 10 right now, so it’s good,” he said. “It was fast. It’s getting packed down good now with all the riders — 60-plus riders — the hill’s going to get faster and faster. I encourage most adults to come out and do it. It’s safe. You’re not going to get hurt doing it.”

Eaton Mountain opened for the season on Sunday, with big plans for 2019 and a new manager.

Mike Kresge, 62, the former manager at Skowhegan’s Kennebec Valley Inn, said Eaton Mountain owner David Beers hired him in November to run the place this winter. They also have plans to open year round, with summer Concerts on the Hill, he said.

The tubing hill has a tow rope and three separate tubing lanes. Kresge said the hill maxed out with riders on Sunday and he expected to do the same on Monday.

The area received another 5 or 6 inches of new snow overnight into New Year’s Day Tuesday, making conditions righteous for riding.

The hill will be open all week, offering two sessions each day beginning at noon. It’s $15 per person per session. The snack bar, famous, some say, for its steak bombs, opens at 11:30 a.m.

“It’s good speed today,” Kresge said of the ride down the snowtubing trails. “We’ve been making snow to try and get it going. We made snow about a month ago, and then it warmed up and we lost everything we had. We’ve been making snow the past couple of weeks and we’ll be making snow this week.”

He said the mountain has six snow-making guns that are moved around to get all the popular spots. The mountain employs 16 people, both on the slopes and in the lodge. They also have a Learn to Ski program, a four-week course for both children and adults.

They also want to open the nine ski trails, with two rope tows this coming weekend.

Owners David and Donna Beers, originally from Wallingford, Conn., bought the business in 2007 for about $400,000. The business remained closed for two years while the couple made repairs and maintenance upgrades.

They opened the mountain and the snow-tubing park after investing about $100,000 to install a new handle-lift, lights for nighttime activities and snowmaking devices.

Eaton Mountain has 18 potential trails.

Kresge said there still is no lift or tow ropes to the top of the mountain for the full experience of downhill skiing, but that, too, will come with time.

“If they want to hike it up, they can hike it up,” he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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