FORT KENT, Me (WAGM) - The Fort Kent Outdoor Center will be hosting the New England Nordic Ski Association's Eastern Cup races on December 16th and 17th. The Eastern Cup is a series of races that helps select the New England team for the Junior Olympics. Fort Kent Outdoor Center President Carl Theriault says this is a very early event and crews are working hard to get ready for the races.
"This is the first time we have hosted this in Aroostook County. First time we have hosted an event this early too. So we're out making snow and Lonesome Pine has been great to help us with that. We did that with the World Cup as well because we don't have the equipment at the Outdoor Center to do that. We're making snow at the top of the hill, we're going to be carting it over to the stadium. Today we're trucking it over," he said.
There has been a lot of preparation and some early deadlines that has gone into what has been completed up to this point.
"It's been around the clock for the last couple months trying to get ready for everything. I believe we started making snow a week ago, the first couple days. Any time a night gets below 20 degrees. This is earlier than we've ever made snow, we've never made snow before Thanksgiving here. We usually wait until the first week of December. We wanted to make snow a little earlier so we could steal some from Lonesome Pine and now Lonesome Pine will start to make it on the alpine slopes," Theriault explained.
The first NENSA Eastern Cup races last year saw some large numbers.
"It's great to have this many athletes. Last year it was in Craftsbury, Vermont I believe December 15th and 16th. They had 450 athletes at this event. We've never done an event with that many athletes in our stadium and at our lodge at one time," Theriault said.
Theriault doesn't think that many athletes will be in Fort Kent, but does think the weather in other states could help draw skiers to those races.
"But if there's no snow in the rest of New England, they're going to want to come up because they want those early season races. It's great for their conditioning and getting ready for their more important races later in the season," he said.
He expects several local skiers to be competing and hopes other younger skiers in the area can learn by watching some of the best in New England.
"Some of our top County skiers I expect to be there. They'll be mid-pack to upper portions of the pack. There are some really good skiers in Vermont and Southern Maine that train year round. I'm going to make sure the high school team is there and observing what's going on," he said.