Emma Charles, left, Ellis Slover and Caden Cote are recognized Dec. 19 during the Roy Varney Eastern Cup Opener in Waterville. The Quarry Road Ski Club teammates qualified to represent New England during the Junior National Championships March 6-12 in Minnesota. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Ellis Slover’s family discovered an option to keep him in skis and on the trails after COVID-19 put the kibosh on Edward Little High School’s preseason in late 2020.

So, while waiting for the high school season to start, Slover, a Nordic skier, joined the Quarry Road Ski Club.

“Quarry Road started as a COVID little thing,” Slover, a sophomore at Edward Little High School, said. “Last fall, we weren’t having EL practices, so my dad found (Quarry Road) and I joined.

“So it started out just as, OK, it is going to be (for) this fall until racing starts up for high school — you know: get in, get out, train — and it has turned into to much more than that. It is incredible what they do over (at Quarry Road).”

The start of the high school ski season was postponed to early 2021, so Slover — whose dad, Daryn, is a Sun Journal photographer — trained at Quarry Road and skied for Edward Little.

There were no state championships last winter, but Slover helped the Red Eddies win the KVAC boys team title by placing first in the classical and freestyle races at the conference championships.


Slover became enamored with the Quarry Road ski program and made the difficult decision to remain with the Waterville club and not race for the Red Eddies this winter.

“That was a long thought process,” Slover said. “It was not an easy decision. Why I ended up not racing for EL, which is really sad, kind of, was just there is a little bit too much confliction between the Eastern Cups and the (high school) races.

“I wasn’t getting enough rest. It would be, like, race on the weekends, race during the week, race on the weekends. I was just not at full potential.”

Ellis Slover of the Quarry Road Ski Club talks with his coach, Justin Fereshetian, following his classic sprint final Jan. 29 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, New York. The race was one of eight Eastern Cup qualifiers for the 2022 New England Junior National Team. Slover is a sophomore at Edward Little High School in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

After choosing to devote his Nordic pursuits at Quarry Road, Slover focused on the Eastern Cup races, which led to qualifying for the U16 Junior National Nordic Championships in Golden Valley, Minnesota, from March 6-12.

“We’ve been pleased to have him up here,” Justin Fereshetian, who is the program director and head Nordic coach for the Waterville Parks and Recreation Department at Quarry Roads Trails. “Obviously, he is a very talented athlete. He is just a really awesome kid as well. He is a good personality to have on the team.”

Slover will be joined at Junior Nationals by fellow Quarry Road members Caden Cote of Oakland and Mt. Blue senior Emma Charles of Farmington, who both qualified in the U18 division.


Fereshetian was a bit “torn” at first when Slover decided to stop racing for the Red Eddies and focus all his efforts at Quarry Road.

“I fully support what he decided to do,” Fereshetian said. “I think he made the right choice for him, given the circumstances. That was a little bit challenging for me because of the optics on it kind of made it feel like I was pulling him away from just a local high school team, which was certainly not the case. 

“I was very supportive of him skiing for his high school team as well as being with us — and I was more than willing to make it work, however possible. Honestly, I like it when athletes make it work with both their high school team and with a club team as well.”


But Fereshetian said that he also understands the season becomes a balancing act for skiers.

“Skiing is challenging in the sense that there is only one time of the year when the competitions can happen, so there is a lot packed into winter, and trying to balance the two is very challenging,” he said. “… If you are going to (every competition), it is really easy to get burnt out toward the end of the season, and I know making the Junior National team was really big milestone for Ellis. He wanted to do whatever he could to make that a priority.”


The door remains open for Slover to re-join the Red Eddies’ ski team next season — depending on the schedule.

“If it works out that I can, I would love to,” Slover said. “If there is another season like this season, unfortunately it wouldn’t happen. In the future, I really want to get better and (race in) bigger races, which means more traveling …”

Slover qualified for nationals as one of the top six athletes who made the cut in New England for the under-16 crowd. Cote and Charles needed to finish in the top 15 in New England for the combined U20/U18 age group. 

“I am excited to meet a whole different type of competitors,” Charles, who recently swept the classical and freestyle races at the state Class A Nordic championships for the third time in her career, said. “I went to Junior Nationals my sophomore year. I am excited to hang out with my friends from other states … and travel a little bit.”

Emma Charles of the Quarry Road Ski Club competes Feb. 6 during the 7.5k pursuit race at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont. The race was one of eight Eastern Cup qualifiers for the 2022 New England Junior National Team. Charles is a senior at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington. Steve Fuller/flyingpointroad.com

“She has been just kind of dominant in the Maine scene,” Fereshetian said.

After graduation this spring, Charles will be attending and skiing for the University of New Hampshire.


Cote, a Messalonskee senior, is Harvard University-bound, and thinking about studying architecture.

Cote said he also qualified for Junior Nationals his sophomore year. This year, the longtime Quarry Road club member was on the bubble, but he came in eighth in his last race to to qualify again. 

“I have been with the club even before we were skiing at Quarry Roads (and) even before Quarry existed,” Cote said. 

Messalonskee does not have a ski program, so Cote has never raced for a high school team.

Caden Cote of the Quarry Road Ski Club competes Feb. 6 during the 10k pursuit race at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont. The race was one of eight Eastern Cup qualifiers for the 2022 New England Junior National Team. Cote is a senior at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I think Justin Fereshetian is an amazing coach, and the things that he has been able to do for us is incredible,” Cote said. “We have developed a super strong culture around skiing and training well. I think it is really a fun team to be on. We have most of the fast guys in the state, and I think having that many fast guys together can really make for a good training program.”

Like Charles and Slover, Cote welcomes the chance to compete in that “ultra competitive scale” at Junior Nationals.


Slover recently won an Eastern Cup race against a field of New England athletes in Dublin, New Hampshire. Fereshetian is excited to see how the sophomore does at Nationals.

“Ellis qualified second (for Nationals) in that age category in all of New England,” Fereshetian said. “Ellis is probably going to have a really good shot at potentially getting on to the podium at one of the races out in Minneapolis. That will be really cool — and I think  Emma and Caden are certainly capable of positing big results as well. 

“Caden particularly likes the classic-style distance races, so that will be the one that he will be targeting. Ellis will have a good shot at the classical sprints.”

Slover is looking forward to his trip to Minnesota to compete against other top-notch skiers from around the United States. He made competing at Junior Nationals one of his long-range goals this season.

“My goal at the start of the season was to just go to every Eastern Cup, have fun, to try to do great,” he said. “For me, it is, ‘Oh, my God, this is crazy.’ I ended up making it, and it still doesn’t feel real, but I am flying out on Friday — like getting in an airplane to go ski.

Ellis Slover of the Quarry Road Ski Club gets a hug from his coach, Justin Fereshetian, on Feb. 20 in Dublin, New Hampshire, after Slover realized that he made the 2022 New England Junior National Team. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“Now we turn that around and the six kids I made it with are now on a team trying to go against nine other regions throughout the nation — and we are trying to bring back basically this team award called the Alaskan Cup.”


Before the winter ends and he switches his attention to Edward Little outdoor track and mountain biking, Slover will compete in the Eastern High School Nordic Championships at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, where he will race for Maine.

“That is a super-fun weekend,” Slover said of the March 19-20 races. “Maine as a state tries to beat all the other New England states. It is a super-fun competition.”

Slover is not sure how the Junior Nationals will turn out for him, but he attributes his training, teammates, parents and other helpful souls offering rides to Quarry Road for his success.

“It was a group effort, for sure,” Slover said. “I would love to do as best I can — and I am not exactly sure where I will place — but if I have four amazing races where I feel good and ski well, I will be happy no matter what I get.”

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