February 15, 2013

Eastern Cup Nordic races moved from Augusta to Waterville

Lack of snow at Bond Brook Recreation Area moves event to Quarry Road Recreation Area, which has a new snowmaking system

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The prospects looked good a week ago for the Eastern Cup Nordic races at Bond Brook Recreation Area after more than a foot of snow fell in the capital region.

click image to enlarge

Nolan Poulin, of Manchester, rounds the corner coming down a hill during the Bond Brook Inaugural Race in Augusta.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

However, warmer temperatures that followed have melted too much of the snow, forcing organizers -- as they did last year -- to move it to Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville, which has a new snowmaking system.

The last-minute move highlights how the Bond Brook Recreation Area, even as it expands trails and looks to attract larger events and more activity, remains at the mercy of Mother Nature.

"Right now, without snowmaking, we're weather-dependent," said Bill Rogers, chief of competition for the event.

Last year, organizers with the New England Nordic Ski Association also had to move the race series because of a lack of snow. The trail system hosted a NENSA Nordic race and the Colby College winter carnival in its 2010 inaugural year.

Only 55.5 inches of snow fell in Gardiner last year, according to the National Climatic Data Center. That's far from the more than 100 inches of snowfall that hit the area the year before.

Last weekend's snowstorm brought this year's total snowfall to around 55 inches, according to the data.

Buying a snowmaking system for the trails at Bond Brook will be part of the next capital campaign by Augusta Trails, which oversees the almost 15 miles of trails in the Bond Trail system and other trails in the city.

"It could really make a heck of a difference for people in the wintertime," Augusta Trails President Mike Seitzinger said.

The next capital campaign also will raise money for a lodge facility for the trail system. Seitzinger said they're still winding down the last campaign, which helped fund trail expansion and the construction of an access road.

The race series this weekend won't change besides the location, but organizers are expecting fewer than the 400 or so attendees originally expected, Seitzinger said.

He said the event will bring some of the best Nordic skiers in New England and New York.

Seitzinger said another key in growing Bond Brook as a Nordic race destination is becoming certified by the International Skiing Federation.

Once the federation certifies the course, it will become one of only eight in the country with the designation, opening up doors to higher-level races, Seitzinger said.

Rogers and Seitzinger aren't the only race organizers let down by the recent weather pattern.

The Farmington Spring Sled Dog Races scheduled for Sunday were canceled after being postponed from Feb. 4 and 5. Joy Turner, who organizes the races with her husband, Mark, said it's only the second time the event had to be canceled in 10 years.

Strong wind kept snow from the last storm from covering the ground adequately.

"It just blew it right off the field," she said, "and there was still ice and bare ground showing."

Although cross-country skiers or dog sledders might not be out this weekend in full force, snowmobilers should continue benefiting what is turning out to be a solid winter for the sport.

Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobilers Association, said state snowmobile registrations are up a little more than 30 percent compared to last year.

"Things are actually pretty darn good, certainly if you use last year as benchmark," he said.

He said last weekend's storm helped cover areas that were lacking and improved those already groomed.

"It was definitely a boost," Meyers said. "There were good conditions in a lot of areas, but you could always use a little more snow."

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663


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