A good New Year’s resolution is a tricky thing to nail. It should be ambitious, of course, but not impossible.

Something that forces you to grow or change, but not something totally out of character. One way to come up with a resolution that’s not only meaningful, but that you can also commit to sticking to, is by tying it to something you love.

After all, resolutions exist in hope of better things in the coming year, right?

Why not make them about having your best ski season ever?

In 2018, I resolve to …

TAKE A LESSON

I’ve been skiing for most of my life, and at this point feel like I have a pretty solid handle on all the mechanics of the sport. But there’s always room for improvement, and no one can point out your bad habits (and give good advice) like an impartial instructor. Lessons aren’t just for beginners – most Maine resorts offer clinics and instruction for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The Camden Snow Bowl, for example, offers private clinics starting at $55 an hour that range from hour-long to all-day sessions, and can be booked by individuals or groups.

FIRST TRACKS ON A POWDER DAY

Back when I was a student in the UMaine Ski Industries Program, this would have hardly qualified as a resolution; with a flexible midweek schedule, and Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Black Mountain, Titcomb and Saddleback all nearby, an early chair on a snow day was easy to guarantee. Now that I’m living outside Portland and working a real 9-to-5, it’s much harder to drive a few hours for that first chair. And that’s assuming I can get myself up and moving that early. But there’s nothing like those first tracks on virgin snow, and I’m hoping the memory of that feeling – and an active weather pattern this winter – will net me at least one day of breaking trail.

GO CAT SKIING

An alternative to heli-skiing, backcountry skiing via snowcat has long been popular in the American West, Canada and Europe. There hasn’t been much opportunity to do it here in the northeast, seeing as we lack the massive mountain ranges, above-treeline slopes and powder for such an operation to make much sense. That changed this season, with Sugarloaf adding two passenger snowcats on a route up neighboring Burnt Mountain. At $30 a ride (on top of a lift ticket or pass), it’s a bit pricey, but a heck of a lot cheaper than a trip out west.

SKI MORE WITH FRIENDS

Growing up, skiing was always a social sport for me. Grade- school trips with my father and brother, high school adventures with classmates, and a huge crew of fantastic skiers in college at UM-Farmington. I’ve moved away from that in recent years as I’ve been writing about skiing, and solo days with just my skis and a voice recorder as company have become the norm. There’s a lot to love about skiing alone, but this year I’d like to get back into that social element. I’m hoping to rope my friends into going, but social clubs like the Down East Ski Club and Maine Outdoor Adventure Club offer an opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals for a few turns.

DO SOME GOOD ON SKIS

Charity and volunteer work is a popular resolution choice, and there are plenty of ways to channel this into your ski season plans. In the volunteer realm, you can apply to help out Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation as an instructor in Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or Alpine racing, and pass on your love and knowledge of the sport to others. WinterKids, the nonprofit that promotes winter activity to Maine children, is always looking for volunteers to work with schools and help out at special events. If you join in, you’ll be in good company – last year there were over 775 hours volunteered with Winterkids.

RACE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY

I was never in any sort of Alpine race program when I was growing up, but that didn’t stop me from skiing fast. Or from challenging my ski buddies to a race every chance we saw an open stretch of slope. This year I can formalize the process a bit by participating in the NASTAR race program. Started by Ski Magazine in 1968, NASTAR (or NAtional STAndard Race) runs race courses at over 100 resorts in the U.S., handicapping times so you can compare your results to other participants. Here in Maine, NASTAR races are run on the East Slope at Shawnee Peak a few times a week. (Par time is 21.85, in case you’re keeping score).

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

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