The Mt. Blue ski teams enjoy a tradition after winning a state championship, and it goes a bit beyond the typical fire truck/police car escort.
“We do the typical tradition in that we do get a police escort into the center of Farmington,” Mt. Blue Alpine coach Mark Cyr said. “But then we do something different. Right down at the corner of Broadway and Main in Farmington, we block the street with the bus and the kids get out and run a lap around the bus for every year in a row we’ve won a title.”
Saturday, the Cougars made just the one lap to celebrate the boys winning the Class A two-day Alpine title as well as the combined Nordic and Alpine team championship.
“It’s been three years since we last won one,” Cyr added, “so it was just one lap. But it was great. We usually have a good crowd and there’a always people screaming, yelling and flashing their lights. It was a lot of fun.”
Added Mt. Blue junior Felix Bonnevie, who finished ninth overall: “Running around the bus, it was really fun. Everything paid off in that moment. The parents were outside, cheering us on. It was great.”
The celebration capped an emotional day for the Cougars, who overcame some adverse conditions at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton to win the championship.
Mt. Blue entered the day chasing Oxford Hills for the championship while trying to fend off Falmouth and Edward Little.
There were two slalom runs Saturday, and Cyr acknowledged he didn’t know where the team stood after the first.
“It was tough,” he said. “You didn’t have all the results, and there are always some disqualifications. You just didn’t know. We knew we were in the mix.”
Cyr watched the action from the middle of the run. He stayed in constant communication with assistant Dustin Duschense, who was at the top of the mountain.
Cyr also had people at the bottom of the mountain checking in via radio after every completed run.
The communication helped the Cougars learn more about course conditions, which changed as the day progressed.
“We were in contact the whole day,” Cyr said. “We were constantly talking back and forth, discussing course conditions. I would radio up to the start to share any concerns. There is a lot of communication. It’s kind of complicated because there is a lot going on. There are a lot people of talking.
“My station was in the middle of the course. While watching the runs, it seemed like every other athlete was falling. I had to make sure that our kids at the top understood that they didn’t need to be going for it. We tried to get that info to the top as quick as we could.”
Cyr knew that placing four finishers in the top 15 would all but guarantee the Cougars the title.
Four in the top 20 would put them in good shape as well.
Mt. Blue had enough depth to still place four in the top 20. Kyle Farrington finished eighth while Bonnevie was next in ninth. Freshman Miles Pelletier finished 15th while Anthony Franchetti was 20th.
“We did what we had to do,” Bonnevie said. “We pulled it together.”
The finishes were more than enough for the Cougars to pass the Vikings for the championship.
“We talked to the kids think about the team,” Cyr said. “We just told them to make sure you finish. We need you standing up. Just go out and have solid runs. We don’t need you to be in the top three. We just told them, â€˜let’s see how many we can pack in the top 20.’ We knew that if we could get four or five, we’d be OK. And we were.”