Mt. Blue senior Lucas Bonnevie has been the hottest Alpine skier this season, winning six of seven races he has skied in, including Saturday’s giant slalom race at the Camden Snow Bowl.
Bonnevie, who lives in Farmington and attended Carrabassett Valley Academy until this year, enjoys the competition and friendships he has developed while skiing at the high school level.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Bonnevie said. “There is good competition, a lot of very good racers and it is fun.”
This week will be his first test under championship conditions when the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Mountain Valley Conference combine for championship races. Skiers will race giant slalom at Black Mountain on Wednesday, and slalom at Titcomb Mountain on Saturday.
“The first thing I have to do is stand up and then I hope I can place in the top three,” Bonnevie said. “I need to continue to work on leaning down the hill instead of towards the hill, when I am racing.”
Maranacook’s Alec Daigle, Kelby Mace and Matt Delmar, along with Spruce Mountain’s Cody Jacques, Edward Little’s Ben Bowles and Lewiston Reilly Bolduc will challenge Bonnevie for one of the top Alpine spots.
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The Mountain Valley Conference and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference are holding their skiing champions jointly at two venues this year. Day 1 will take place in Rumford at Black Mountain of Maine and will feature the giant slalom race (9 a.m.) and Nordic freestyle race (2 p.m.). The championships will move to Titcomb Mountain in Farmington for Day 2 on Saturday with the slalom (9 a.m.) and Nordic classic pursuit (2 p.m.).
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Last season the Skowhegan boys Alpine team was a senior laden group that won the Class A Alpine title. The Indians boys and girls teams are young and inexperienced this season.
Without a local mountain to train on, Skowhegan often travels to Farmington to work on gates at Titcomb Mountain. Even with the travel, Skowhegan’s numbers continue to grow, thanks to a strong middle school program.
Two days a week approximately 20 middle school age skiers travel to Titcomb for a middle school program.
“We are really starting to draw interest,” Skowhegan Alpine coach Bill Varney said. “When these kids get to the high school level they will have some skiing experience.”
Although young at the high school level, Skowhegan continues to make progress, with full scoring teams in the boys and girls Alpine divisions.
“We are very young but the kids are made progress, this year,” Varney said. “We are trying to get the most out of this season, building and developing. Then next year we will start out fresh with a group of kids who have experience.”
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Winthrop sophomore Rachel Ingram qualified for the Maine J2 Nordic team last week at the Sassi Memorial Race at Black Mountain. Skiing against the top Nordic competitors in Maine she finished 18th.
“Rachel qualifying for the J2 is big news for us,” Winthrop Nordic coach Jay Lindsey said. “We have kids who are working hard and it was good to have one of them earn recognition for their efforts.”
The Nordic ski program at Winthrop received another boost recently when the team held an open house for their new concession stand/ski shed at the high school. It’s a 24×30 building adjacent to the baseball field and the ski trails.
“It is working out well as a focus point for the Nordic ski team at Winthrop,” Lindsey said. “The construction of the building was through the generous donations of many peoples time and money.”
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Two of the brightest, young stars on the Nordic trails this winter have been Mt. Abram sophomores Emma Houston and Thomas Farraday. Houston won her first high school race last Thursday, winning a 5K freestyle race at Black Mountain. Farraday, meanwhile, continues to earn top ten finishes.
Both skiers are quick to point out their training routine in the summer time as a key ingredient to their success this winter.
“In the summer, I did a lot of training, and it is making a big difference,” Houston said. “I really feel I am developing into the sport, my technic has improved so much and I’m learning to push myself more.”
Farraday added: “Conditioning in the summer was very important. I came into the season in better condition and was able to work on my tempo and rhythm in races.”
Houston and Farraday earned spots on the Maine Nordic team. They will compete against the best high school racers in New England in early March, giving them an indication of where they are in training and technical ability.
“My major goal this season was to make the J2 team,” Farraday said. “Now I am excited to see where I fall in the competition.”