December 28, 2012

Eaton Mountain Ski Area owner 'up and around' one year after accident

David Beers suffered broken bones, skull fractures when a snow groomer rolled over him on Dec. 4, 2011

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- Eaton Mountain Ski Area opened for snow tubing Friday, a year after the owner was injured and forced to close the mountain.

click image to enlarge

Tubing enthusiasts ride the rope tow to the top of the slope at Eaton Mountain Ski Area in Skowhegan on Friday. Snow tubing opened Friday for the season.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Matthew Wood,17, of Boston, front, and Alex Juarez, 19, of Tempe, Ariz., cruise down the slope on opening day at Eaton Mountain Ski Area in Skowhegan on Friday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

"I'm physically doing quite well," said David Beers on Friday. "Up and around."

Beers suffered broken bones and skull fractures Dec. 4, 2011, when an 18,000-pound snow groomer rolled over him at the mountain. His jaw was broken in three places and he still is deaf in one ear, he said.

Beers and his wife, Donna, and their son, Jacob, 8, spent Christmas 2011 together in his hospital room in Bangor. The mountain was closed last winter.

This year, it's a whole new story.

"We had our opening day today and had a good turnout. We were able to make enough snow and got enough snow from Mother Nature last night to allow us to get open," he said.

The mountain, off Lambert Road and U.S. Route 2 east of downtown Skowhegan, will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through New Year's Day with three snow-tube chutes. For now, there's no downhill skiing or snowboarding.

The mountain's chair lift for skiing and snowboarding still needs to be upgraded, inspected and certified by the state and the insurance company, Beers said.

The snow tube chutes offer a 60-foot drop and run about 500 feet, Beers said.

"It's something like riding a roller coaster," he said.

Snow tubers pay $13 per person for three-hour sessions.

"We limit the number of tickets we sell for any snow-tubing session so that people can be sure they're going to get a lot of runs in," Beers said. "That way we keep the crowd to a minimum and they don't end up spending a lot of time standing in line. Usually by the end of the three hours they're pretty well worn out and have gotten their money's worth."

The mountain, with a new handle-tow lift, opened for the first time with a new snow-tubing park in 2010 after a fire closed the original place in 2005. The Beerses invested about $100,000 to install the new handle-tow lift, lights for nighttime activities and snowmaking equipment.

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367


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