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Warren Miller Feature Films

Sugarloaf Showcases the Best of Maine in Warren Miller’s New Film, “Winter Starts Now”

Sugarloaf is a deceptively big, diverse mountain. Some days you have to work hard for it, sometimes it’ll open up and let you in.

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“There’s a lot of tradition in Maine,” says Amy Taisey. “People kind of get hooked in the community itself.” As a lifelong Mainer, she should know.

Brought up near the coast and raised in the mountains, Taisey is a diehard Sugarloaf skier. Scrappy, creative, passionate, and emblematic of the state itself.

She and her husband, Phil, an engineer with a background in boat building, founded Amalgam Skis, a boutique hand-built ski manufacturer, based in Freeport, Maine. They use a high-tech CNC machine to shape the components of the ski, but the wooden cores of the skis are made from poplar and maple harvested in Maine, which they try to source from environmentally friendly operations. When they formed the company in 2017, their first top sheets echoed the common colors of lobster buoys. They’re looking to the future while celebrating their roots.

Phil and Amy Taisey are a few of Maine’s best makers, heading up Amalgam skis to support their life at Sugarloaf.

Amy, a classic multi-faced Mainer, is also a health care provider. And in these tough pandemic times, skiing is her happy place. It’s the way she escapes from the other stresses and pressures of her life.

In this year’s Warren Miller film, “Winter Starts Now,” she and Phil got to go to that happy place, and rip through the steeps and bumps of Sugarloaf, the hill they grew up skiing.

The Taiseys teamed up with Rob Lu and Peter McDowell from Winterstick Snowboards, another batch of Maine-based makers, whose office is at the base of the Sugarloaf Road. The designers and builders, who handcraft boards in-house, can sneak out for a few runs at any time. But they say the best part of being up at the mountain is really the community “One of the best things about being up here, that you can’t really find anywhere else, is just the sense of being a Sugarloafer,” says Lu, Winterstick’s president, engineer, and builder.

Catch the Sugarloaf spirit in “Winter Starts Now,” on tour this fall.

Sugarloaf is a deceptively big, diverse mountain, from the sneaky hand-cut glades of Brackett Basin to the wild, open steeps of the Snowfields. Some days you have to work hard for it, sometimes it’ll open up and hook you in. Just like Maine.

The Winterstick and Amalgam crew got to explore the new cat skiing terrain in the Eastern Territory. They loved it, but Taisey says she likes some of the old-school vibes at Sugarloaf, too, like the old, slow West Mountain double. “It has that old mountain feel, reminiscent of the days of my childhood growing up skiing at The Loaf,” she says.

That old-school mountain feel is a big part of why Amalgam has such deep roots in Maine, and why the Taiseys think the scrappy mountains of the Pine Tree State are so tied to their companies’ DNA and their own. It’s a place where tradition and technology can sit together and thrive. The same is true of the Winterstick team. They shape skis and boards in Maine, and they’re shaped by it, too.

‘Winter Starts Now,’ the 72nd annual ski and snowboard film from Warren Miller Entertainment comes to a theater near you between October 20 and December 30. Find local show times, and get free tickets, premium seating, and more by joining Outside+ today.