WATERVILLE — Neil Amalfitano says he learned to ski at Quarry Road hill in Waterville, so the Oakland resident relished the opportunity Sunday to help prove the viability of bringing Alpine skiing back to the city.

“It’s incredible,” Amalfitano said. “It’s such a great sense of everyone having fun, everyone participating.”

Towed up the hill by snowmobiles, 11 Alpine skiers took to the Quarry Road Recreation Area for a look at what could be.

As it now stands, Quarry Road Trails only has groomed trails for Nordic skiing. But the city hosted the downhill skiers Sunday to possibly build a movement toward returning Alpine skiing to Waterville.

“We really want to gain momentum,” said Matt Skehan, director of Parks and Recreation and Public Works for the city of Waterville. “We want people to see this is viable.”

Participants of Sunday’s event each paid $100 to cover the city’s expenses. They skied for about three hours, while volunteers from the Friends of Quarry Road and Colby College assisted city employees in running the event.

Skiers Matt Gilley, left, and Neil Amalfitano carry their skis and poles Sunday while participating in a “trial” Alpine ski event at the Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Any expansion at Quarry Road Trails would go through the city, and Thomas Klepach, the city councilor representing Ward 3, participated in Sunday’s event and said he supports Alpine skiing’s making a comeback at the city property.

“I want Waterville to be a place where people love the recreational lifestyle,” he said.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, Alpine skiers took to the community hill, then owned by Colby College.

The city now owns the Quarry Road Recreation Area and, along with the nonprofit Friends of Quarry Road, hosted Sunday’s event as part of an ongoing analysis of the potential for bringing back downhill skiing.

A master plan was developed in 2017 for an Alpine skiing area. The proposal, if financially sustainable, could include a lodge at the bottom of the hill, according to proponents.

A skier navigates the hill Sunday while participating in a “trial” Alpine ski event at the Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Ole Amundsen, vice president of Friends of Quarry Road, said Sunday’s event served as a way to “reignite imagination” of alpine skiing in the city.

“We have big plans for Quarry Road,” he said. “We’re trying to recreate that feel and that vibe of people getting out for an afternoon ski, and that it’s possible to do it in Waterville.”

Dan Sylvester of Waterville puts on his ski boots Sunday before participating in a “trial” Alpine ski event at the Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Before the event, Amundsen briefed participants and urged they relish the opportunity.

“This is the official restart of the Alpine hill,” Amundsen said. “You’re at the beginning.”

Skiers Chris and Linanne Gaunce said were excited. The Waterville residents own Central Maine Motors Auto Group and are a major sponsor of the Quarry Road Trails.

“It’s one of those areas that we need to see run again” Linanne Gaunce said.

Chris Gaunce said bringing Alpine skiing back to Waterville would be an extension of the city’s overall revitalization. He said it is another way to draw people to Waterville.

“It’s a win-win,” Chris Gaunce said. “This is a diamond for us, and can set (Waterville) aside from others as a place to work and live.”

Eric Harlow, the head Alpine skiing coach at Colby College, volunteered at the event, with a few members of his team. Harlow, who moved to Maine with his family this past summer, said while an Alpine skiing hill in Waterville would benefit the college’s team, it is really about the community.

He said he envisioned his children — Jack, 2 1/2, and Mia, 11 months — learning to ski at Quarry Road. They live so close, he said, that “we could cut a walking trail. It’s exciting.”

Amalfitano agreed there is much excitement now that there is a dedicated effort to bring Alpine skiing back to Waterville.

“The foundation is here,” he said. “It just needs a push.”

Matt Gilley of Waterville participates Sunday in a “trial” Alpine ski event at the Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

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