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November 23. 2012 8:00PM

City Sports: Mighty Mac comes alive today


Jeff Mceachern gets some air before grinding the rail on the trail "Elm Street" yesterday afternoon while boarding on the great conditions at McIntyre in Manchester. (JAMES COOK/UNION LEADER File)
McINTYRE SKI AREA, a hidden gem in Manchester's backyard, will be the coolest place for skiers and riders today. Of all places. Forget that it's only November, and we enjoyed a near-60-degree Black Friday. Would you believe the Mighty Mac is hosting a "Turkey Shred" Rail & Box Jam today from 1-4 p.m.?

Ice shavings have been trucked in from JFK Coliseum and West Side Arena to create snow paths leading to ski and snowboard rails. Contestants will compete for the best tricks and enjoy an assortment of prizes and giveaways, thanks to GnarBear Shred Apparel and other companies. The entry fee is a canned good for the New Hampshire Food Bank. Skiers and riders under age 18 must have a parent or guardian present in order to compete.

The off-season was full of ambition for the folks at McIntyre, who plan to unveil a new terrain park for young snowboarders and launch a corporate race league for adults. There are even big plans to carve a new trail that offers a glades run before linking to the main Upper Coyote trail. That new trail won't be finished for this season. Ross Boisvert, McIntyre vice president and general manager, recently put those plans on hold.

"We want to give our neighbors a chance to voice their opinions first. The new trail does abut some (private) property," said Boisvert, who, like many resort executives, is hoping for a bounce-back season.

Ski areas took a major hit last season, the result of unseasonably warm temps and the lack of natural snow. McIntyre's ticket sales were down 24 percent last season.

"It was pretty bad for everyone in the industry," Boisvert said. "We're ready to start the next season with a bang."

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SANTA POWER: Nothing appeals to the casual runner like a free Santa suit. The inaugural Manchester Santa Claus Shuffle brought out more than 1,500 participants last year, and race organizer John Mortimer is preparing for more than 2,500 runners and walkers this year. The 3-mile Shuffle, a course that runs down Elm Street and loops back to Veterans Park, will be held downtown next Saturday. Elf Runs for kids begin at 2:45 p.m., followed by the Santa Claus Shuffle, and then the annual Christmas Parade at 4:15 p.m.

In July, Mortimer ordered 2,500 Santa suits (350 boxes) in preparation for the second annual event. He'll begin handing them out Friday night at the Shaskeen Irish pub.

"Grown men and women get their suit, and their eyes light up like they're seeing Santa for the first time," Mortimer said. "If we can give an extra incentive to come out and run - and not watch from the sideline - people may ultimately change their lifestyle and become healthier and live longer."

Runners can register on-line (millenniumrunning.com/santa) through noontime on Thursday. Participants may also register on Friday night at the Shaskeen and before the race on Saturday. This year's Santa Claus Shuffle will benefit the Safe Sports Network, which provides free athletic training for a dozen area high schools.

Staff writer Kevin Gray's email address is kgray@unionleader.com.

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