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Meistering and valley spirit

3-29-13-mountain-mamas-valley-voiceThe Mountain Mamas won their first overall Cranmore Mountain Meisters title since 2005 and celebrated at the end-of-season awards bash at Zip's Pub and Grill Wednesday night, March 27, following the rescheduled, end-of-season Jesse E. Lyman Memorial Downhill. Members of the team are Jody Buzzell, Martha Leich, Susie Lathrop, May Landano, Lisa Lee, Bernie Friberg, Sue Stagnone, Patty Phillips, Sarah Mallett, Chris Pacheco, Sandy Steele, Bobbie Box, Beth Dolan, Becky Armstrong, Kathy Baltz and Carol Hastings. (TOM EASTMAN PHOTO)So, do you think the Easter Bunny will see his shadow and we'll have another six weeks of good spring skiing weather, let alone great maple sugaring?

That's what you've gotta expect, after this great snowy month of March. We've gotten nearly 80 inches for the year to date compared to the 31-year average of 90 inches — but remember, we barely got any snow in January.

The temperatures were too cold leading up to New Hampshire Maple Weekend and Maine Maple Sunday, but the sap started running nicely just in time for the open house demonstrations.

“We've had a good decent run since Saturday. It's been doing all right. We're very pleased. As long as temps are cool at night, and warm enough during the day, it should continue into April, but of course, thing start to warm up then and when it gets into the 60s the buds start coming out and the season ends,” said George Weston of Weston's Farm Thursday morning.

I stopped by Weston's last weekend on Maine Maple Sunday, which is always the fourth Sunday in March. All sorts of people were there, and the sap was running good. John Weston and cousin Seth Burnell handled the sap house duties at the evaporator, and George and Lori Weston, Doug and Cathy Burnell and others handled the front of house chores, selling quarts and pints, while handing out  samples of vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup.

Looking ahead to this weekend, come celebrate the best of the season with the students of the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School. They'll be presenting their 12th annual pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup March 30 from 8 to 11 a.m. Tours of the Stoney Morrell Sugar House will also be featured, along with live entertainment.

Hope to see you there!

MEISTERS BASH: Speaking of the best rites of spring, Meisters turned out in force for the rescheduled Jesse E. Lyman III Memorial Downhill under mostly sunny skies Wednesday, and then regrouped for the end-of-season annual Meisters Bash at Zip's Pub and Grill Wednesday night.

Kudos to Mike Rennie and culinary staff, as the food of roast turkey and roast beef and pasta was fantastic. Congrats also to the ever-lovely and spirited Mountain Mamas, who won their first overall title since about 2005, according to team captain Patty Phillips.

“It's all about showing up each week,” said Patty after the well-attended awards bash. “And team spirit — getting together for lunch and having fun,” added Beth Carta Dolan.

They scored first place with 1,386 points, followed by the Lobster Trap in 1,292 points and the Hodge Podgers in 1,276 points.

Trail Map Express won the Steve Spofford Memorial Award for best team attendance by race count/points in the top three with 1,275 points. (If you never knew Steve, he was a wonderful teacher and Mountain Meister, who exemplified the best of Meisters community spirit — and this longtime observer would have to report there was a lot of that ol' valley spirit on display at the Meisters bash, and again afterward when everyone gathered at Delaney's Hole-in-the-Wall for dancing to the Jeremy Dean Band).

The Snowvillage Inn's Kevin Flynn and his Eaton Boogers won the hospitality award (non-sponsored team with the most points) and Derek Way's Positive Vibrations won the Business Award

Smooth dancing (and skiing) Deb Edison of the Shannon Door/Wanna B's won most improved, as she had never run the gates before this season and moved up a division or two by year's end.

Kelli MacDonald was the top female racer with the best average time in nine races of  26.80 seconds and Kevin Hamlin was top male with an average of 25.88. Leslie Jones was top female snowboarder with an average of 36.96, and veteran Dave Paulger was tops for the men n 33.72. Suzie Boone was top female telemarker i 40.50, and locksmith Paul Robert retained his men's telemark crown in 32.12.

Kelli took the Master Meister Female Award (race count and total points) with 147 points, James Robertson was top snowboarder with 125, and Bob Tafuto was top telemarker with 120 points. The most improved racer chaser award went to Doug Goodwin of the Rafflemeisters.

There was a ton of schwag awarded all night long. Derek Riley of Positive Vibrations, for instance, traded with a teammate to win pair of specially-retrofitted Dynastar skis, which featured four shot glasses. Beth Carta-Dolan won a boot warmer, and Kelli MacDonald won a great backpack.

Kelli won the downhill for the women in 37.6, and Stefan “Old Man” Karnopp, grandson of the late ski school and ski shop pioneers Carroll and Kay Reed, won for the men in 36.5. “I took the first five GS gates, thought I had done pretty well, and then set 'em straight for the downhill,” said Stefan when we spoke with him at Redstone Variety for a cup of coffee Friday morning.

Racers reported it was a great course, starting higher up than the usual Meister start and crossing over to the usual Meister course.

One secret that was revealed by Greg Frizzell of WMWV and Craig Niiler of King Pine is that on certain days, depending on snow conditions, such as Wednesday's downhill, they actually switch to softer women's skis. Gregg used a 205 cm pair of women's skis, and Craig was on 201s. What? Cross skiing at Meisters? Now, there's a headline! And it goes the other way, too — some women use stiffer men's skis, depending on the snow.

Who knew?

Kudos to Danbo Doucet, Karen Dolan, Dougie MacDonald, Dave Clancy, David Fall, Phil Haynes, Eric Styffe, Ben Wilcox, Becca Deschenes and crew for all of their work to keep Meisters alive and kicking. See you out on the slopes next season for Meisters 2014!

SKI SEASON: Cranmore's Ben Wilcox says Cranmore is to call it a season March 31, with plenty of snow still on the trails, as is King Pine. Black closed March 24. Attitash is hosting Motor Booty Affair Saturday as part of its Grandstand Mogul Jam, and has postponed it splash pond to the following Saturday April 6, with the season to end April 7. The season continues with a beach party at Bretton Woods March 30 and then through April thereafter, as well as at Cannon with BodeFest April 6, with Cannon extending its season to April 14.

Thomas Prindle says Wildcat plans to stay open “as long as we can and the cover holds.” Wildcat has scheduled a pond skim for April 20, the same day it hosts the Friends of Tuckerman Wildcat Wildfire and the Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon.

For cross country, the season is to end at Great Glen Trails and Jackson Ski Touring March 31, although the JSTF's Thom Perkins says skiers are welcome to use a few higher country groomed trails after that. It ended this past week at and MWV Ski Touring, but skiers may still ski Whitaker Woods without a pass as long as the snow lasts. Cross country skiing ends with free skiing at Bretton Woods Nordic April 1, but continues at Bear Notch at least through April 7, notes Doug Garland. “It ought to be a great weekend for skiing,” said Doug Thursday.

ETC: CURLING: Avid curler Larry Huemmler of Lucy's Hardware says the valley curling championships are set for 5 p.m. at the Ham Ice Arena Saturday, March 30...HOCKEY: Kudos to Gary “Tilly” Tilton and fellow valley skaters, who won the Monday Men's League in Berlin at Notre Dame Arena last week with a 7-2 win in Game 3...LOCKED IN: Isn't it incredibly amazing that Kennett alum Jeff “The Redstone Rocket” Locke has been named the fifth starter for the Pittsburhg Pirates to start the 2013 season? Way to go, Jeff — we're all proud of ya!...LENNON RE-IMAGINED: Many Beatle and Devonsquare fans turned out to the Theater in the Wood Sunday night for the Nutopians' release party and concert for their awesome “Lennon Re-Imagined” CD. Led by Tom Dean of Devonsquare, Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step and Alana MacDonald of Devonsquare, the performance by the eight-piece ensemble was splendid. Guitarist Robbie Coffin's 15-year-old daughter Maggie, a high school sophomore in Gardner, Maine, stole the show with her clear as-a-bell pitch and voice on such songs as “Revolution” and “Dear Prudence.” The show started with an eight-minute screen vignette showing of clips from Lennon's career, including some classic Beatles footage. “I think we're on to something with this,” said Rex after the show. Could Vegas be next? For more, visit www.thenutopians.com...Theater in the Wood hosts the Adam Ezra Band this Saturday, March 30, in its continuing concert series. A Battle of the Bands finale is set for May 23...MWV Chamber After Hours was well attended at the Eagle Mountain House this past Tuesday. Moat Mountain Photography's Dick Pollock noted that he plans to run a guide service this summer, and David Brooks spoke about the White Mountain Waldorf School's 12th annual dinner auction, set for April 6 at the North Conway Grand. Janice Crawford reported that there are nine booths left for the annual Biz to Biz Expo, slated for the Omni Mount Washington May 14...Tin Mountain's First Season Fest drew over 400 people last Saturday at the Wadsworth Gym at Fryeburg Academy...Happy birthdays to one and all, including April Fool and all-around great Cranmore ski patroller Drew Phillips (4-1)...That's all from this Easter Bunny Trail. A Peaceful Passover and Happy Easter to all.
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