KINGFIELD, Maine (STPNS) -- DALLAS PLANTATION -? Consistent with past major off-season improvements since the Berry family acquired Saddleback in 2003, enhancements will greet skiers and riders in a well improved resort community.

Saddleback opens its season this Saturday, Dec. 13 for an exciting season featuring resort improvements for all levels. This year's emphasis is easy access for top-to-bottom skiing and riding for all levels from the extravagant views of the 4,000 foot summit. Additionally touted by Saddleback staff is adding to the most advanced skiing and riding in the entire east.



In just five years, the Berry family has made significant improvements including close to 50 percent more terrain for skiers and riders, two quad chairlifts and a new family/ beginner area. They went through the vision, design and construction of a spectacular post and beam base lodge, increased the resort's snowmaking coverage to 85- percent and lengthened and increased the capacity of the Rangeley Chair.

Through a lengthy regulatory process, the Berrys obtained approval of its 10-Year Plan for the mountain's four-season resort to pave way for future expansion. And like most all notable four-season mountain destinations, they've added additional on-mountain lodging with the Rock Pond, South Branch and Mountain Brook condominiums.

New to this season, skiers and riders can enjoy the all new Kennebago Quad Chairlift. This new Dopplemayr 2,709 foot quad replaces the Kennebago T-bar giving way to a vertical rise of 960 feet to the summit. The four-passenger lift will move more skiers faster allowing them to access 15 trails and glades, 12 of which are advanced and two that are considered "more difficult." And now less advanced skiers and riders can enjoy the spectacular views with an improved easier trail for all winter enthusiasts to enjoy.

"The new Kennebago quad opens up the top of the mountain. It makes our glades and snowfields much more accessible and gives all levels of skiers and riders access to high alpine terrain with breathtaking views of the legendary Rangeley Lakes Region," said CEO and General Manager Warren Cook. "From the top, Saddleback now has 12 top-to-bottom expert trails, including the new Black Beauty and Frostbite trails," Cook added.

According to a resort spokesman, the new chair provides easy access to what was already the largest self-contained advanced skiing complex in the East. And skiing and riding is not just for the advanced, everyone can enjoy reaching the spectacular summit.

"This summer we widened and installed additional snowmaking on America, it is the easiest trail from the top of the mountain and feeds into Hudson Highway which winds its way down to the base," said communications and marketing manager JoAnne Taylor. The 3.1 mile route takes you from the panoramic views from atop of the 4,000 foot peak to the base lodge at the bottom. "This will allow lower level skiers and riders a route from the summit to the base," Taylor added.

Intermediates can ski or ride Tri-Color and Green Weaver, a one mile loop, back to the Kennebago Chair if they chose.

The black diamond terrain is in a bowl that is separate from the rest of the ski area. Three advanced trails were added in the bowl this summer. So now the new lift offers 12 top-to-bottom advanced skiing and riding runs.

Breaking that down, Saddleback now totals seven black diamond trails by adding new trails dubbed Black Beauty, Frost Bite and Artula. Existing black diamonds include Warden's Worry, Tight Line, Supervisor and Peachy's Peril. Double Black terrain include Mule Skinner, Governor and the glades called Intimidator, Night mare and Dark Wizard, plus there's also headwalls to navigate down from the snowfields.

Additional snow guns were added during the offseason in various locations including Tight Line and the headwalls of Warden's Worry and Supervisor. Plus snowmaking coverage was extended to America and other locations and enhancements were made to the pumps and lines for additional snowmaking capacity.

"The expanded snowmaking gives us higher pressure, flow and more efficient water distribution to the top of the mountain allowing us to open the advanced terrain from the summit earlier in the season." Said Jim Quimby, Mountain Operations manager.

Also new this year, Saddleback will now operate the rental and retail shops in the base lodge that were previously operated by a lessee. This season the rental shop will have a new fleet of rental skis, boards, boots, bindings and poles. The retail shop will also have a new inventory of clothing and accessories.

According to the mountainside real estate folks in charge of home sites and condominiums at Saddleback, "the roads and utilities for the East Magalloway private home sites were completed during the summer with 15 of the 22 lots already spoken for. These lots are located trailside to the two proposed Magalloway lifts and have spectacular views of Saddleback Lake and the Western Maine Mountains."

They also report that "the second Mountain Brook building was completed this summer. Saddleback now offers Quarter Share and Whole Ownership in three projects: Mountain Brook (which are one, two, and three bedroom units), South Branch (one and two bedroom units) and Rock Pond (three bedroom units)."

The management team continues to grow at Saddleback, some of whom are familiar faces in the skiing and riding industry. The Saddleback management team now includes: Warren Cook CEO and General Manager; Jim Quimby, Mountain Operations; Steve Alari, Base Operations; Brian Toomey, Finance; JoAnne Taylor, Marketing; Mark Robie, Skier Services; Tom McAllister, Human Resources; and Chris Farmer, Planning and Development.

For more information about skiing and riding at Saddleback or to get information about prices and rates visit, www.SaddlebackMaine.com; email them at info@saddlebackmaine.com or call 207-864-5671. For information about home sites and condominiums visit www.SaddlebackVillage.com; email them at sales@saddlebackvillage.com or call toll free 1-877-864-3881.