WATERVILLE — Conditions were perfect for Nordic ski racing Sunday, as more than 100 enthusiasts from all over Maine and New England turned out for the 2018 Quarry Road Opener, hosted by the Central Maine Ski Club.

And there was plenty of snow on the ground, too.

While snowmaking was a success on Saturday and air temperatures hovered below freezing Sunday, finding volunteers to run the snow guns overnight still remains a challenge, said Soren Denlinger, a Colby College junior from New Jersey and a Quarry Road Trails volunteer.

“In terms of volunteering, it’s hard to get people who are willing to come in from like 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to make snow,” he said. “It’s coldest then, it’s often least humid then, and it’s just the best conditions for making snow, especially since we like to have the trails open during the day for skiers to ski.”

The compressor used to power the sun-making guns also has posed a challenge, Denlinger said. He said they stopped using the original, somewhat faulty, compressor and are renting one for now, but that one lacks the capacity of the old one.

“We’re restricted in the number of snowmaking guns that we can run,” he said. “We have guns — there are roughly eight mounted onto towers, and then there are guns that are on sleds that we can move around. At any one time were running about a dozen total.”

Denlinger said for start up and shut down of the snowmaking process four or five volunteers are needed. While the guns are running overnight, they need a minimum of two volunteers.

“Usually it’s people who ski here and are enthusiastic about making the conditions skiable,” he said.

Located just 2 miles from downtown Waterville, Quarry Road’s trails and open spaces provide opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, biking, walking, running and paddling, according to the Quarry Road website.

The area offers 8 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails, and additional miles of backcountry snowshoe and hiking trails.

Sunday’s race was put on by the New England Nordic Ski Association.

“The race has attracted skiers from the Central Maine Ski Club, younger middle school kids, and it’s also attracted college kids from Colby, Bowdoin and Harvard has some skiers here,” said welcome center volunteer Gary Ackendorf, of Winslow.

Volunteers Gary Ackendorf, left, and Mike Grant speak about conditions and snowmaking efforts during the Quarry Road Opener in Waterville on Sunday.

Mike Grant, another welcome center volunteer from Oakland and a member of the board of directors for Friends of Quarry Road, said ski events such as Sunday’s opening races are very popular.

“I think it’s really a kick off for the ski season to try to get people interested,” he said. “We were able to open the ski area much sooner than normal this year — we opened up in mid-November — and so its generated some interest in the community.”

Out on the trails, Zane Fields, a Colby senior from Woodstock, Vermont, and a member of the Colby Ski Team, said the volunteers have done an amazing job getting the trails ready for Sunday.

“It’s really nice — we have a new PistenBully for grooming and so they’re doing a super good job, the volunteers out here,” he said. “They’ve been blowing snow for us just about every night. They’ve been doing all-nighters. It’s really lovely right now. It’s super firm. Twenty degrees I think is perfect.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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