WATERVILLE — The city on Sunday will host a special alpine skiing event at Quarry Road Recreation Area as part of an effort to explore the idea of officially bringing the sport back to the slopes there after a five-decades-long hiatus.

For many years, from the 1930s to the 1970s, people skied on the community hill, which was owned and operated by Colby College and had a T-bar and a rope tow, according to Matt Skehan, the city’s parks and recreation director.

The city and Friends of Quarry Road, a nonprofit organization that helps support the programs and development of the now city-owned recreation area, have been looking into whether there is enough interest in bringing downhill skiing back, what that would entail, and what it would cost.

To test the waters and raise awareness, the city will host an event from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday in which about a dozen skiers will be towed up the slopes with snowmobiles and ropes and then ski down. Those skiers have paid $100 each to cover the city’s expenses in hosting the event. Volunteers from both the Friends of Quarry Road and an alpine ski group at Colby will help the city Sunday.

“We want to take pictures to show the potential,” Skehan said. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but it is a legitimate vertical for downhill skiing.”

The public is invited to watch the skiers Sunday and there is no charge, according to Skehan.

“We encourage people to come and have a look,” he said. “It will be a neat experience to see and imagine what it could be.”

Skehan said some people now carry their skis to the top of the hill and ski down at their own risk, but the idea of developing an official alpine skiing program has not been promoted until now.

Skehan and Ole Amundsen, vice president of the Board of Directors for Friends of Quarry Road, said that in 2017, a master plan was developed for an alpine skiing area, based on feasibility and profits to make the program sustainable. Such a proposal would likely include a lodge at the bottom of the hill.

Alpine skiing was popular many years ago on the hill off upper Main Street in Waterville, as seen in this circa-1950s photo from Colby College archives. Photo courtesy of Colby College archives

“Our Nordic (skiing) structure and infrastructure at Quarry Road is top-notch and we want to continue that, too, and have it make sense for both going forward,” Skehan said. “It would take a lot of help on the capital side and we think it would take more staff. It’s very early on. We’re working on a business model. We’re going about it very carefully. It would take a pretty thorough analysis of the numbers, and fundraising. We want to have all our ducks in a row.”

Amundsen said that, depending on how Sunday’s event goes, Quarry Road might have similar events later in the winter or next year.

“It is very much kind of a trial event, to see if we can do it with a small group of people and also bring attention to the hill,” he said.

Amundsen said volunteers are looking at two efforts simultaneously — the analytical aspect and community organizing. “You need both,” he said.

As part of the exploration, they are asking questions such as whether a community hill could be a teaching venue for children, if that is something people want and what would need to be done to make it happen, according to Amundsen.

“We’re being very careful and mindful that things can change,” he said. “We’re dipping the toe in the water, so to speak.”

Amundsen said people are excited about the possibility of adding alpine skiing to Quarry Road, which has Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails.

“Winter is what really makes Waterville a wonderful community and with the pandemic, we are seeing a big uptick in usership at Quarry Road, he said.

Sunday’s event is subject to snow conditions, which Skehan said are perfect right now.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.