Quarry Road gears up for winter 2014

Quarry Road Recreation Area hopes to be making snow by Thanksgiving.   Photo by Natalie Sill | The Colby Echo

Quarry Road Recreation Area hopes to be making snow by Thanksgiving. Photo by Natalie Sill | The Colby Echo

Quarry Road, the year-round recreation area a mere half-mile from campus, is beginning to gear up for its winter season. While road races and wellness fairs characterize summers at Quarry Road, winters bring opportunities for cross-country skiers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

The 200-plus acres have attracted both the Waterville and Colby community since the 1930s, when it consisted mostly of a towrope and a hill. Although Quarry Road closed and reopened multiple times throughout the years, its prospects are stronger than ever. It is now on track to become a premier outdoor facility; 10 kilometers of world-class trails have been built since 2007. Three of these trails, designed by Olympian John Morton, have received certification from the International Ski Federation and are homologated for international competition standards. Homologated courses are engineered in specific lengths and climb to be comparable worldwide.

The increased popularity and prosperity of Quarry Road can be attributed to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Friends of Quarry Road, which, in association with the City of Waterville, plans the programs and facility development.
One of the most fundamental jobs for the organization is ensuring that the area has a proper and timely transition into the winter season. John D. Koons, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors, wrote in an e-mail, “we definitely do not leave it to Mother Nature” to provide snow for ski meets and large events, “as she is too capricious.” The team at Quarry Road invested in one of the best snowmaking systems to guarantee that the area is up to par for all of its seasonal commitments. Designed by Scott Barthold of Snowmatic Engineering in Lyme, NH, Quarry Road’s system utilizes energy efficient HKD snowguns piped for 3.5 kilometers at 500 gallons per minute.

Snowmaking equipment has been moved into place already, with expectations that the process will begin after Thanksgiving when temperatures are 25 degrees or less. The process entails creating a delicate combination of compressed air and water that later gets shot through “snow guns” to produce snow on the trails. According to Caroline M. Mathes, Vice President of the Board of Directors, several Colby students volunteered to aid in snowmaking last year, which “requires training and a desire to go out in the middle of the night in the cold weather.”

The functionality of Quarry Road greatly depends on volunteers, a point reiterated by Mathes, who is currently organizing a training session on November 19th. Volunteers are needed both in the Welcome Center Yurt and for events. Duties include selling day and season ski passes, renting skis, and selling refreshments. During events such as the upcoming Quarry Road Opener, volunteers may help with trail maintenance, registration and food.

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