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Titcomb Prepares to Host Eastern Cup Race on Jan. 15

January 09, 2012 - Farmington — The race is on at Titcomb Mountain, even if Mother Nature won't cooperate.

Farmington Ski Club has received approval to make snow for the prestigious Eastern Cup Race planned for Jan. 15 at the West Farmington mountain, Rose Hines, race director for the hosting club, said Wednesday.

After months of planning, the race draws near with little natural snow.

With 400 of New England's most elite Nordic ski athletes set to compete and nearly that many spectators expected for the day, organizers are waiting with “bated breath” to see if nature will help.

If not, it's expensive to make snow but they have a plan in place to cope with the added challenge of two years of winters without a lot of snow at Titcomb Mountain, she said.

The Eastern Cup Race includes sprints at Bond Brook in Augusta on Jan. 14, followed by the longer races of 5 kilometers for junior races, 10 kilometers for women and 15 kilometers for men at Titcomb Mountain on Sunday.

Without snow-covered Nordic trails, the plan was altered to what Hines calls a “hybrid loop” using the lower portion of the alpine trails and the Nordic trails closest to the snow guns to make a 1.4 meter race loop, she said.

“We'll have laps,” she said.

The alpine slopes will be closed that day at least until 3 p.m. The Eastern Cup Race begins with a Junior 2 boys race at 9 a.m.

As part of a capital campaign, Farmington Ski Club purchased new, more efficient snow guns this summer.

“We've made a lot of improvements in our snow-making," Karleen Andrews, Titcomb Mountain manager said. The new guns "are working well for us with less energy costs.”

Part of the slope opened this past Saturday and has been open every day since.

"People were pleasantly surprised by the good snow," Andrews said.

The race will bring elite racers from the New England area, young men and women who could become future members of the US Olympic Team, Hines said. Some teenage skiers will also compete to gain points for the Junior Olympics team.

The local ski club put in a bid to the New England Nordic Ski Association to host one of four Eastern Cup Races. Only one is held in Maine, the others in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Quite a few Maine sites placed bids to host the race.

“Someone at NENSA skied at Titcomb Mountain and liked it. We had a good plug-in and we were afforded one of the races,” Hines said.

The group started planning last spring, first obtaining NENSA rules for hosting the race. Trails were widened and race markers added along the race trail.

“None of this would have happened without the over 60 volunteers needed to run this race,” she said. “The Titcomb staff and volunteers have bent over backwards.”

Hosting the Eastern Cup brings an opportunity for the club to raise thousands of dollars from a portion of the fees charged for athletes to participate.

“The money made will be very helpful to offset some of our expenses that we've incurred because of the lack of snow,” she said.

Her personal goal for wanting to host this elite race here though comes from “the potential of this mountain. Being able to host is an opportunity for everyone to experience and see it firsthand,” Hines said. “Spectators are also welcome to come and see what this little mountain has to offer.”

The race also provides an opportunity for the area.

Area motel owners are thrilled, she said. With a reliance on tourism bringing winter snowmobilers and skiers to the area, they have also felt a pinch from the lack of snow.

Ann Bryant, Sun Journal, January 2012


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