Photographed by Erin Little, styled by Janice Dunwood.
You can tell a lot about a Mainer by how she chooses to get down a snow-covered hill.
[S]ay what you will about sledding, it’s easily the most egalitarian of winter sports: It rewards moxie, not skill. It accommodates both pillows of pure powder and inches of late-season crust. And no matter where you live, chances are you can find a pretty savage sledding hill within 20 minutes of home. Maine’s sled-making heritage runs deep, so we in the Pine Tree State have long had our pick of our favorite downhill winter conveyance. What’s yours?
Your ride: The steerable, birch-wood-and-steel-rail Flexible Flyer, manufactured (albeit in China) and sold by Paricon, Maine’s 155-year-old, five-generation, family-owned sled-making company.
What it says: You’re a meticulous nostalgic who likes being in control. You’ll decide your own route down the hill, thanks very much, and do it with old-school panache. Darned kids today hardly know what real sledding is anymore.
Signature moves: Graceful S-curves on the slopes; hours of meticulous oiling and sharpening in the garage.
Your ride: Big spenders: Handmade native-ash 10-footer from the artisans at Camden Toboggan Company. Craigslist shoppers: Vintage, careworn 4-footer from L.L.Bean (pictured).
What it says: You’re all about craftsmanship and appreciate the finer things in life. Either that or you’re one of the staggering, hell-on-slats party animals who show up each year at Camden’s National Toboggan Championships.
Signature moves: Piling on one more rider than is probably wise; arriving at the bottom in a tangle of arms and legs.
Your ride: Paricon’s Flying Saucer or 4-foot Winter Lightning.
What it says: Wheeeeee! You have a need for speed and nobody to impress! Life is short and possessions are disposable and you might as well have fun!
Signature move: Chasing your sled out into the parking lot after making an emergency ejection for lack of any better way to stop.
Your ride: Heavy-duty LT245 tire tube from auto parts store.
What it says: Function over fashion, my friend. You’re a simple person with simple pleasures. And one of those pleasures is lounging in cushiony comfort the whole way down the hill.
Signature move: Making it all the way to the bottom without spilling your beer.