WATERVILLE — Hundreds of skiers and spectators flocked to the Quarry Road Trails recreation area Saturday morning for the first day of the Roy Varney Eastern Cup Opener races.

More than 500 competitors are registered for the two-day event, including skiers from across New England, eastern Canada and the Central Maine Ski Club, a local team that competes regularly at Quarry Road.

“We have club teams, high school and college teams from all around New England and even some people from Quebec,” event volunteer Adrian Ross said.

Originally scheduled to be held at Sugarloaf Mountain, the event had to be changed to Quarry Road due to unseasonably warm temperatures and rain.

The last-minute venue change called for specific planning on the parts of volunteers and Quarry Road staff, according to Justin Fereshetian, Quarry Road’s program director and head coach.

“We called in for a lot more porta-potties and dumpsters so we can manage that number of people,” Fereshetian said. “We’ve brought in some food trucks to make it awesome for everyone. We’ve rearranged things to allow for more indoor space for athletes. It’s been a lot of getting the grounds ready, a lot of snow-making, getting our open field area buffed out how we need it and getting parking lots as big as we can get them.”

According to Fereshetian, the event coordination highlighted the advancements the Quarry Road team has made in recent years.

“Our snow-making system is the same one we’ve had for years, but we’ve been able to learn more about it each year and some snow-making volunteers have been here since the beginning, so a lot (have) become a lot more efficient with knowing what type of conditions we need,” Fereshetian said. “This is a high-level regional competition so it has high standards and we feel like we can now provide that. … We’re in the best position now than we ever have been to put on a well-run professional event.”

Kristin Dawley of Putney, Vermont, attended the event to support her daughter Liza Bell and noted how impressed she was with the Quarry Road team.

“They did such a good job pulling things together,” Dawley said. “My daughter has been skiing since she was in kindergarten so we’ve traveled for a lot of events and this one is really great. I want to thank the community and Quarry Road for this event. … They were able to get it situated with not a whole lot of time but it’s been awesome.”

According to Fereshetian, a key component to putting on the event is his team of volunteers.

“We can’t do what we do without the help of lots and lots of volunteers,” Fereshetian said. “I really want to give a shout-out to all of them because we can’t do it without them and I’m not just saying that there’s a lot of things that happen on the backs of the volunteers. It’s a community effort to make the event as awesome as we can.”

This year’s Eastern Cup Opener was held in memory of Roy Varney, a state champion Nordic skier from Turner who died in a farming accident in July at the age of 19.

The event will continue on Sunday with races beginning at 10 a.m.


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