Anne McKee wasn’t close to grabbing a top-10 finish at the Class B Nordic ski championships last season.
Not even real close.
“I was 20th,” said McKee, a Kents Hill sophomore and Hallowell resident. “It seemed like all the girls I skied against were superstars. I remember thinking, â€˜Oh, gosh, I don’t think I’ll get close to them.”
McKee did, and sooner than she envisioned.
She finished fourth in the Class B classical race and eighth in the freestyle, parlaying a pair of top-10 finishes into a strong season on the snow.
For her accomplishments this winter, McKee is the Kennebec Journal Girls Nordic Skier of the year.
“My main goal this year was to finish in the top 10 at states,” McKee said. “One of my advantages is my engine. My running helps me out. To do it, it feels incredible. I feel like I had a great season.”
McKee, who along with other Kents Hill skiers trains with Maranacook, turned in her best performance at the classical race on Feb. 20 at Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.
She finished the 5-kilometer race in 19 minutes, 46.0 seconds. She edged out Emma Torres, of Yarmouth, by a second and Kents Hill teammate Aimee Sala by 19 seconds.
“That first day we got there I remember it was hard to wax,” McKee said. “Wax is essential if you want to do well. It was an odd temperature day, too. When we got to the starting line I was put up near the front, and that made it hard to tell where you are. But my coach (Steve DeAngelis) gave me splits to keep me updated.”
Skiers needed to complete two laps at Sugarloaf, and McKee trailed the front-runners on the first one.
But she made up ground on the second.
“I was really motivated,” she said. When I came by my coach on the second lap (DeAngelis) told me I was in fifth. I couldn’t believe it. I was just overjoyed. I powered up the last hill and got fourth. I was really, really happy with it.
“It was a really long hill. It felt like you were so far away. It was emotionally draining. You just had to keep your head in it. It was a tough course with some rolling hills but you couldn’t think one negative thought.”
The following day, also at Sugarloaf, McKee finished eighth in the Class B freestyle with a time of 16:50.6.
“It was great to get another top-10 finish because I want to be a consistent skier. It was a crazy day, too because we had rain, freezing hail and I think even some hail at one point. But it felt great to do well again. It was a great season for me.”