Pat Cote and the Quarry Road Ski Club seemingly have created a utopic culture along the banks of the Messalonskee Stream in Waterville, Maine. However, the “magic” of creating a winter oasis for cross country skiing in early December is much rather a product of many years learning and hard work. On Sunday, despite there being no natural snow in the region — well over 100 skiers took to an expertly groomed loop of one point five kilometers of manmade snow in south-central Maine.
The Quarry Road Opener hosted six races for High School, Open, Middle School and Youth skiers. This years event attracted ten masters and forty-seven skiers between the ages of 20-29. For some competitors it was also their first day on snow for the year — for all it marked the beginning of the race season. As always, there was a strong collegiate attendance with Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, the University of New Hampshire and UMaine Farmington all competing. The camaraderie and among the college, high school and club teams made for a lively spectator experience!
Lucinda Anderson of the University of New Hampshire set the pace in the Women’s Open race with a time of 23:15 over a demanding course with little rest. Two seconds separated fellow Wildcat Hattie Barker from the Anderson, before Bowdoin’s Emma Crum in third — who led a sleuth of Polar Bears taking spots three through seven!
Colby College’s, Zach Nemeth covered the course with powerful skiing in just under 20 minutes. His team mate, Jack Young took the second step of the podium with a time of 20:04. Brian Beyerbach a former Saint Lawrence Saint, now hailing in Bethel, New York showed outstanding post collegiate form placing third for team, “Wolfpack.”
It wouldn’t surprise many that Caitlin Patterson, a GRP Alumni and current Nonstop Nordic athlete and coach topped the women’s master podium with graceful skiing. She was joined on podium by Alanna McDonough of Cape Neddick and local Quarry Road skier Berkeley Almand-Hunter. How awesome to see a full women’s podium at the first Zak Cup race of the year!
The men’s masters field boasted seven competitors. Local Quarry Road skiers Andrew Almand-Hunter and Samuel Mathes, took the top two steps on the podium setting impressive course to finish the 7.5km in 25 minutes. Missing from the podium Dennis Claire (Gunstock Nordic) rounded out the podium just in front of his club mate and Zak Cup regular, Jeff Palleiko.
Female U16 / High School 4.5km
1. Mallory Raymond, Gould – 16:03.1
2. Maya Kellett, Mt. Blue High School – 16:06.2
3. Nora Condit, Edward Little – 16:27.0
Male U16 / High School 4.5km
1. Orrin Slover, Quarry Road Ski Club – 13:09.6
2. Silas Bartol, Maranacook – 13:47.2
3. Tate Harvey, NonStop – 14:01.5
That sleuth of Polar Bears who helped Bowdoin claim the 2023 NENSA Rollerski College Cup. The College Cup is awarded each year to the college team that accumulates the most points over the course of the series.
The Opener ended with a perfectly low key Lollipop opportunity — several intrepid skiers, some on skis for the first time only a few minute before the race — took to a paperclip shaped course laid out in the stadium. Race officials, parents and the general public lined the course making for great memories.
The Quarry Road Opener marked the beginning of Zak and Club rankings — data that NENSA computes throughout the season for friendly rivalries and club motivation. In the Club Standings the colleges start out with a strong showing taking the top four spots, with nearby Colby College claiming the lead with 669 points.