The recent ice storm set the high school season back a bit, but there are otherwise few complaints as snowfall this month has been above average.
“This is the best early-season skiing in at least eight or 10 years,” Maranacook Nordic coach Steve DeAngelis said.
Several Nordic teams are already underway while Alpine meets should begin in a week or so. The Mt. Blue boys and girls each won at the Billy Chenard Memorial Ski Race held Saturday at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center while the Maranacook boys and girls finished second.
Chenard, who grew up in Rumford, was an outstanding Nordic combined skier who at one time was director of the Sugarloaf Center. Entry fees from the event go to a scholarship fund named in his honor.
Mt. Blue seniors Ike Doiron and Sarah Wade were individual winners in the freestyle meet. Wade, who is the Class A state freestyle champion, won by a minute-and-a-half over runner-up Julia Ramsey, a freshman from Mt. Blue.
“There are people out there to challenge her,” Mt. Blue coach David Nordstrom said. “They’re more likely to show up from the south.”
Doiron leads a strong group that has finished second to Falmouth the past two seasons. Junior Dan Lesko finished fifth for the Cougars while several freshmen, including Tucker Barber, Nolan Rogers and Thomas Marshall, also skied well. Nordstrom thinks he may see Falmouth at the Sassi classic race Jan. 25 at Black Mountain and he’ll know more then about his team’s shot at a state title.
“It’s difficult to tell,” he said. “But this is a great group to make the attempt.”
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DeAngelis said his focus early in the season is more on technique than speed.
“Technically I thought we showed that we are going to be pretty good,” he said.
Sophomore Luca DeAngelis, the coach’s son, finished third overall while teammate Ethan Harriman was fourth. Last season, the Maranacook boys won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title and finished second in the state. This year’s group could equal or better that finish, but DeAngelis said the main goal of the program is participation.
“We can have a lot of people ski and be really good anyway,” he said.
There are 37 boys and girls on the high school team and another 48 skiing for Maranacook Middle School. The girls finished eight points behind Mt. Blue, a Class A team, led by junior Hannah Despres in fifth place, followed by two freshmen, Abby Despres in sixth and Jaycee Greeley in 11th.
“The girls have six or seven very strong skiers,” DeAngelis said. “The boys have four or five with a couple more that could develop into good skiers.”
The Kents Hill girls train with Maranacook but have the requisite four skiers to fill out a girls team. Sophomore Anne McKee placed third in the girls race and is rapidly improving.
“She’s worked hard on her upper body strength,” DeAngelis said.
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The Mt. Abram boys finished third although senior Thomas Farraday was under the weather and finished fifth. Last season, he placed second in both classic and freestyle at the Class B state meet.
“Tom was sick,” Mt. Abram coach Buzz Bean said. “I let him race on the condition that he not go too hard.”
Junior Court Talmage finished 17th for the Roadrunners while freshman Xavier Romanoski placed 19th. Last year, the Mt. Abram boys won the Mountain Valley Conference championship.
“I have five good skiers,” Bean said. “The MVCs is a good goal for us. I think that’s attainable.”
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The Maranacook Alpine team returns five seniors from a team that won the KVACs and finished a disappointing second in the Class B state meet.
“The boys look to be pretty strong,” Maranacook coach Ronn Gifford said. “Hopefully, we’ll end on a better note than last year.”
Three of the team’s six skiers took falls in the giant slalom on opening day, which put the Black Bears in a hole. Among the returnees are senior Matt Delmar and Alec Daigle. Delmar won the state slalom title while Daigle took the giant slalom title. Those outcomes were reversed at the KVAC meet.
Kelby Mace is pushing Delmar and Daigle while Alex Tooth and Toby Smith aren’t far behind.
The girls finished a surprising third in the state last year and Gifford said they have the potential to finish that high again. Sophomore Erin Guilmet is the team’s top skier followed by senior Maddie Chiapetta and Lydia Rice. Gifford also has three promising freshmen.
Early snow has allowed the team to get some training runs at nearby Kents Hill.
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The Mt. Abram girls return a strong group that won the Class B state championship last season.
Senior Elise Luce won the state slalom and giant slalom titles last year and finished sixth in the slalom at the Eastern High School championships. She’s the youngest of four daughters of coach Bob Luce who has skied for the Roadrunners.
“She’s had the benefit of watching the others,” Bob Luce said.
The Roadrunners return four skiers from last year’s team and have two who have skiing experience in senior Patia Jellison and junior McKenzie Taylor but have not competed before.
“It always boils down to your fifth or sixth skier,” Luce said. “I’m optimistic.”