After placing second in the Class A freestyle and seventh in the classical Nordic state championship races as a sophomore, Mt. Blue’s Sarah Wade set some goals for her junior season.

“I knew a top three was feasible,” Wade said.

As it turned out, Wade sold herself a little short.

In February, Wade won the Class A state championship freestyle Nordic race at Black Mountain in Rumford, with a time of 14 minutes, 46.6 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of second place Abby Popenoe of Portland. She took second in the classical race with a time of 17:02.1, and went on to have a strong showing at the Eastern High School championships in Presque Isle.

For her efforts, Sarah Wade is the Morning Sentinel’s Girls Nordic Skier of the Year. This is the second consecutive year Wade earned the honor.

Wade has always been a better freestyle skier than classical, and this year, she and coach David Nordstrom made sure to work on improving her classical race times. Some of it involved tinkering with ski wax, but the vast majority of Wade’s improvement came down to old fashioned hard work, particularly in the summer.

“I did a lot of roller skiing and running, some (weight) lifting,” Wade said.

“I think her overall fitness and maturity were the biggest things. She trained really well,” Nordstrom said. “Her classical really came along this year. She was very focused when we worked on it.”

Wade’s improvement continued at the Eastern High School Championships in Presque Isle earlier this month. Racing against some of the top skiers from five states, Wade placed ninth in the freestyle (14:43.40), 12th in the classical (27:31.6) and fifth in the 1.5 kilometer sprint (3:55.25). Wade finished 11th in the overall combined score category. Wade finished just two points behind Katahdin’s Lydia Streinz, who was the top Maine finisher.

A mixed relay team consisting of Wade, Streinz, Silas Eastman of Fryeburg Academy, and Ben Allen of Portland finished in third place.

“It was really fun. The courses up there are really technical,” Wade said.

It was a strong improvement for Wade, who last year placed 41st in the freestyle and 72nd in the classical on a warm and slushy course at the Eastern Championships in Chittenden, Vt.

While Nordic skiing is an individual sport, Wade loves being a part of the Mt. Blue team, and the tradition that comes with that.

“I love our team, too. Everyone is so supportive of each other,” Wade said.

Wade said some of the Cougars’ success can be attributed to their home course at Titcomb Mountain.

“You can’t really go anywhere without finding an uphill,” Wade said.

Wade’s outlook extends past Mt. Blue and into the Nordic ski community in general, Nordstrom said.

“We’re very lucky. Even though we’re all very competitive, there’s also a network of people who get along and support each other… Some kids, you can tell are just to themselves. But she likes to be on a team. She likes that working together,” Nordstrom said. “Then she’ll ski like the dickens.”

Wade already has goals for next season. Winning the state title in the classical race is one, and reaching the podium at the Eastern Championship is another. She’d also like to qualify for Junior Nationals, which means another summer logging lots of hours on the roller skis.

Among the colleges Wade will consider applying to next year are Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, the University of Maine, Middlebury, Dartmouth, the University of Toronto and McGill.

“I would expect her to continue to improve,” Nordstrom said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]