By GLENN JORDAN
RANGELEY — Lizzy Landry, a senior at Casco Bay High School, likes a course that tests her.
Upon first inspection of the FIS trail Wednesday afternoon at Rangeley Lakes Trail Center, Landry wasn’t sure about the ups and downs.
“During the warm-up, I didn’t think the hills were going to be that challenging,” she said amid a steady snowfall, “but on the last one I was definitely feeling it.”
Landry won the Class A Nordic classical race by eight seconds over Mt. Blue senior Sarah Wade in a time of 21 minutes, 2.8 seconds.
Later, with snow falling even more heavily, Mt. Ararat senior Sam Wood edged Portland senior Ben Allen by six seconds to win the boys’ race in 17:34.5.
“The powder really slowed down the tracks a lot,” said Wood, who was 10th a year ago. “Especially when you got out of the tracks on the downhill, your wax would stick pretty badly. But it was a pretty wild day, pretty windy, so that was fun.”
Wednesday marked the opening day of both the Class A and Class C Nordic ski championship meets, which conclude Thursday with freestyle races. The Class C races — won by Merriconeag’s Samantha Pierce and Katahdin’s Daniel Streinz — are being held at Black Mountain in Rumford.
Class B is scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. For the first time, the Maine Principals’ Association separated the Nordic and Alpine state meets by a week, so the overall champions will not be determined until slalom and giant slalom races have been run.
In Class A, the Falmouth girls took a commanding lead by grabbing four of the top seven places Wednesday. Freshman Gabby Farrell was third, sophomore London Bernier fourth, freshman Lucy Mahoney sixth and junior Anna Morin seventh for a total of 20 points to second-place Mt. Blue’s 48.
“They just really exceeded our expectations (Wednesday),” said Falmouth Nordic coach Jen Harris. “That was amazing.”
Leavitt stands third with 62, followed by Portland (86), defending overall state champion Oxford Hills (89), Deering (118), Mt. Ararat (127), Fryeburg (161) and Greely (174).
In Class A boys, Leavitt holds a slight lead over defending Nordic and overall champion Falmouth, 38-40, with Mt. Blue third at 48. Portland is fourth at 59, followed by Fryeburg (91), Mt. Ararat (123), Oxford Hills (154) and Greely (158).
In last month’s Sassi Memorial classical race against statewide competition, Wood finished fifth and Portland’s Allen was second.
“I’ve raced against Ben a lot this year,” Wood said. “He’s a really good skier. He got me in the Sassi, so I was definitely thinking about that and pushing pretty hard to keep him away.”
Landry was 15th and Wade was third at the Sassi race. On Wednesday, however, Landry said she hit her stride early.
“I really like grinding courses, courses that are hilly, that you have to work at,” she said. “I just find a rhythm, like 1-2, 1-2, and I just go.”
A year ago in the Class A classical, Landry placed 11th. Until Wednesday, she had not won an individual race this season. Her goal was a top-five finish.
“It’s my senior year,” she said, “so it’s a good feeling to go out on top.”
Defending Nordic champion Merriconeag opened big leads for both girls and boys. The girls placed four among the top seven for a score of 18, well ahead of second-place Fort Kent (56). Fiona Ahearne (fourth), Carlin Tindall (sixth) and Lily Tupper (seventh) backed up Pierce’s individual victory.
Monmouth is third at 74, followed by Dirigo (107), Orono (112), Telstar (121), Waynflete (126) and Winthrop (133). Monmouth got a ninth-place finish from Becki Bryant while teammates Jordyn Mann was 20th, Shannon Buzzell 22nd and Hanah Kerrigan 23rd. Jada Choate led Winthrop with a 16th place finish.
In the boys race, Streinz edged Monmouth senior Dylan Thombs by five seconds, while Isaac Johnson and Mathias Deming were the top finishers for Winthrop. Merriconeag leads the team scores with 18 points followed by Dirigo and Fort Kent.