A cross country skier gets moving on the trails at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville on Friday as the snow begins to fall. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

When the snow starts falling, high school ski teams excited.

With a snowstorm blanketing the bulk of the state Friday and Saturday, alpine and Nordic ski teams are ready to take advantage and hit the slopes and trails.

After all, coaches said, it’s been a slow start to the Maine high school ski season.

“In our terms, this is wicked late,” Maranacook alpine coach Ronn Gifford said. “We would have, as a team, been out skiing about three Saturdays by now. We haven’t skied at all. It’s not that the mountains have necessarily not been open, but the up and down weather we’ve had, and the rain storms that we have really created situations where the time just didn’t work.

“The ironic part is, we haven’t skied because of warm weather and not as much snow and availability as we wished we had to take everyone out. Now, we’re getting snow, but that’s going to keep us from transporting on Saturday because the roads won’t be great,” Gifford continued. “It’s that age-old saying, ‘beware of what you wish for.’ In a nutshell, everyone is excited. But I’ve been around long enough — as my counterparts have been — we don’t get excited until we can actually measure it on the ground.”

Gifford said the Black Bears have been working on “dryland training,” exercises that help keep skiers conditioned for what can be a grueling race season.


Skowhegan alpine coach Bill Finley said he has potentially one of the best boys teams he’s had in years. Oliver Barden, Asa Stroman, Connor Files, Drake Tracy and Jakub Prokop are poised for standout seasons. The snowstorm this weekend is a welcomed sight, Finley said.

“This is probably the most dedicated team I’ve had in a long time,” he said. “We’re really excited, thinking that some of us will be on snow this weekend. We’re looking for the next team practice on snow (next week). Titcomb (Mountain in Farmington) is planning on opening (Dec. 22), so we’re hoping to be on snow next Thursday as a team.”

Cross country skiers make their way on the trails at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Mt. Blue alpine coach Mark Cyr said the storm should help smaller ski areas, like Titcomb Mountain in Farmington.

“The storm will be helpful at places like Titcomb, where there isn’t a lot of snowmaking,” Cyr said. “As a matter of fact, our compressor bit the dust the other night, so our snowmaking is down until the middle of next week. This is going to help a lot, especially in areas with surface lifts, like T-bars. Titcomb has two- T-bars, and typically you have to make snow on the T-bar lines. With 12-18 inches of wet snow, we’re not going to have to make snow on the lift lines, which saves a lot of time and a lot of water.

“As far as ski racing, we actually prefer man-made versus the natural (snow). Man-made is a better surface for racing,” Cyr continued. “But we’ll take this (storm). If it’s a good, wet and heavy snow, it will set a good base and we can put some man-made snow on top of it.”

In a Dec. 13 Facebook post, Titcomb announced it had some issues making snow due to mild temperatures.

A cross country skier gets moving on the trails at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Elsewhere, the Quarry Road trails in Waterville are ready for cross country skiers. The recreation area, used for high school Nordic races, has been making snow since November, thanks to brand new, all-electric equipment. Program director Jeff Tucker said Quarry Road hosted a high school Nordic training camp earlier this month, attracting skiers from all over New England.

“We’re really excited (about the storm),” Tucker said. “We’ve been super fortunate to have good skiing so far this year, pretty much since Thanksgiving. Our snowmaking crews are amazing. We kind of have a world-class operation here with what we’re able to do, given marginal temperatures and lacking the cooperation of mother nature. But it’s awesome it’s finally moving in. It’s going to fortify what we have for skiing. If we get enough, we should be able to build off of that. Winter is here. It kind of snuck up on us, but it should be a great way to kick off winter with a big storm.”

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