Three years ago, Dan Lesko was a Nordic skiing newcomer. Now, the Mt. Blue High School junior is among the top skiers in the state.
“(Lesko) had a real breakout year this year,” Mt. Blue Nordic ski coach David Nordstrom said.
Lesko earned a pair of top 10 finishes at the Class A Nordic ski championships last month in Rangeley, placing seventh in the classical race and sixth in freestyle.
For his efforts, Dan Lesko is the Morning Sentinel Boys Nordic Skier of the Year.
As a freshman, Lesko decided to try cross country skiing on the advice of some friends from the cross country running team.
“I think one of the biggest things that helped me is cross country running,” Lesko said. “I worked hard to improve (running), and that helped my skiing.”
As a sophomore, Lesko placed 23rd in the state freestyle championship, and 26th in the classical final. Nordstrom said this year, he saw Lesko much more comfortable on skis.
“There was a huge difference in his technique,” Nordstrom said. “It was a night and day difference.”
Lesko’s big improvement came when he gained his balance on skis, Nordstrom said, and figured out the differences in motion between running and skiing.
“Body position is really different, and until kids get that, they aren’t really skiing,” Nordstrom said. “He’s been improving his motor, too. I knew the potential was there.”
Lesko was extremely open to coaching, Nordstrom said.
“I had a really good coach, and that helped,” Lesko, who also placed 11th at the Class A cross country running championship last fall, said.
Lesko currently favors freestyle racing.
“Originally, I was better at classical,” Lesko said.
Lesko was set to compete for Maine at the Eastern championships in Mendon, Vt. over the weekend. He hopes to see even more improvement next season.
“I’d definitely like to see top three at states,” Lesko said.
“I thought by his senior year, he could be a top 10 skier (at states),” Nordstrom said. “He’s a hard worker, and a smart worker, and put those together you get what we’ve seen.”