Central Maine Ski Club coach Justin Fereshetian, center, reviews video footage of club members while teaching skiing technique along McGrath Pond Road on June 18 in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Area Nordic skiers have an opportunity to keep their skills sharp year-round thanks to a new program in Waterville.

Justin Fereshetian, head coach of the Central Maine Ski Club, is running a summer program at the Quarry Road Trails in Waterville. The group  just started outdoor practices last week because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s part of the club’s new year-round program, giving skiers the ability to keep their skills relatively sharp.

“The year-round portion (of training) is new,” Fereshetian said. “We always had the winter programming going on, but expanding it out to all four seasons of the year is something that’s new.”

Central Maine Ski Club members from left, Keya Amundsen, Surya Amundsen and Emma Charles train on roller skis along McGrath Pond Road on June 18 in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Fereshetian, who was named the Quarry Roads program director last fall, said the group goes through “dryland training” that involves conditioning, bounding exercises involving ski poles, interval training and roller skiing, which is comparable to roller skating, but with skis and poles instead of skates.

“With those roller skis, you can use your boots and your poles, with the pavement tips (on the bottom of the poles), and be able to ski on roads,” Fereshetian said. “You’ve got to be safety-conscious of vehicles, and that most of these roller skis don’t have brakes. You have to plan out your route accordingly, so that way you’re not going downhill into a dangerous intersection. There are techniques that can help slow you down, but if you’re already going fast, there’s really nothing you can do.”

Before getting together for the first training session last week, Fereshetian had been sending training packets to skiers, providing tips and a game plan for how each skier should be training at home. The group had also done some strength sessions together using Zoom.

“We’ve tried to find ways, even though we’re not physically together, we can still get together for a session,” Fereshetian said.

Mt. Blue High School skier Emma Charles, who finished last winter sweeping the freestyle and classical titles at both the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Class A championship meets, praised the summer program.

“It’s been really nice, having an actual (training) plan, rather than kind of just doing my own thing like I’ve done in years past,” Charles, who just completed her sophomore year and has twice been named Sun Journal Girls Nordic Skier of the Year, said. “Justin does a really good job of mixing up the high-volume (workout) weeks, and then after high-volume weeks, he gives us some easier workouts with more rest days. I have confidence that I’m not overtraining, but I know I’m not undertraining.”

Central Maine Ski Club member Keya Amundsen works on technique while training on roller skis June 18 along McGrath Pond Road in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Charles said she appreciates being able to train with a group.

“It’s more fun to have a group to ski with,” Charles said. “It’s a lot more fun to have a bunch of teammates who are doing the same workout as you, instead of Mom, who lags behind me, because she doesn’t really understand what I’m going through, so I’m kind of in a bad mood … but I don’t really get in a bad mood when I’m with teammates, it’s just more fun.”

Before his current position as Quarry Road Trails program director, Fereshetian, who competed for the ski team while receiving his degree in physical education from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, was previously the Nordic development director/head coach at the Outdoor Sport Institute in Caribou. Fereshetian has coaching in his blood. His father, Al Fereshetian, has been the head coach of the cross country and track and field teams at Bates College in Lewiston since 1995.

“My father has been a big influence on me and my coaching,” Fereshetian said. “There’s definitely probably some things I take from him, but it is a different sport and different demands. But he was extremely influential in my coaching. I took some things from him and have tried to apply it to Nordic. It’s kind of fun, too, because sometimes we get into discussions on training theory from a running perspective, versus a skiing perspective. It’s just kind of neat to bounce ideas off of each other.”

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