The Nordic ski season is well under way at the Quarry Road Trails, where colder-than-normal temperatures in early November allowed for a jump start on the snowmaking season and the earliest opening day ever.

The trails, part of a more than 200-acre facility owned by the city of Waterville, offer over 13 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails, including about 3 kilometers with the capability for snowmaking.

“Natural snow hasn’t really materialized the way anyone would like, but we’ve been able to make snow and have a really good base 2.5 kilometer loop,” said Dave MacLeay, president of the board of Friends of Quarry Road, a non-profit group that supports the city’s operations at the trails.

“It’s been pulling a lot of folks from around the state, especially the southern part, who are looking at Quarry Road as a place they can go and get on snow, whether it’s the high school or college ski teams or just folks who want to get out. It’s a nice resource to have and we’re fortunate we have snowmaking to provide that experience for folks.”

Volunteers assist the city’s Parks and Recreation Department with snowmaking and also staff the welcome center at the Quarry Road Trails.

Snowmaking is often done at night, especially early in the season, to capitalize on colder temperatures and avoid disrupting skiers.

The 2017-2018 winter season saw 521 season passes sold, about 50 percent to Waterville residents, and 924 day tickets sold. MacLeay said this year’s sales are on track for higher numbers.

Friends of Quarry Road also runs the Central Maine Ski Club after-school ski program, which is in session starting in January and has over 120 children — the most the program has seen to date — signed up, MacLeay said.

“We’re excited it’s grown year over year,” he said. “It’s nice to see that effort and investment start to take root.”

– Rachel Ohm

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