Bob Luce, the alpine skiing coach at Mt. Abram, has a lot of insight on his daughter Elise. When Bob talks about why Elise was so strong as a senior this winter, he thinks back to a race in Presque Isle during her sophomore year.
Bob and Elise were talking, and somehow, Elise missed her start time while standing there ready to start. The rules stated she had to go next to last, but she stayed calm and went on to win the race.
“She’s pretty relaxed about things, and doesn’t let a lot of the things build up,” Bob said. “Her biggest goal is to have fun.”
This season, Luce won the Class B giant slalom for the fourth consecutive year, and the Class B slalom for the third year in a row. She also finished first in the giant slalom at the Eastern Maine High School Championships, held March 8 in New Hampshire. That makes her the choice as the Morning Sentinel Girls Alpine Skier of the Year.
“As a father, I was proud of what she accomplished this year,” Bob said. “As a coach, she met the goals that she set for herself. She (also) won every single run, with the exception of one in the shootout. The first round of the shootout, she didn’t win, and then she got a little grumpy and won the second round.”
Though Elise won seven of a possible eight state titles in the slalom and giant slalom in her high school career, she has naturally improved since that freshman season. As to how she’s improved, she and father hit on different areas.
“My line has gotten a lot better — in giant slalom, especially,” Elise said. “I used to be extremely straight. I didn’t have a great year with slalom this year, but when I did ski well, I skied really well.”
“She’s gotten stronger,” Bob said. “Her tactics are better — how she goes down the course, and where she needs to be in relation to the gates. Some kids struggle with it, and have a hard time getting to the next step. Obviously, she’s not perfect — we’re not winning World Cups in the Olympics — but it’s part of the evolution.”
Part of what keeps Elise grounded is her friendships, like the one with Greely’s Elyse Dinan, this year’s Class A champion in the slalom and giant slalom. Luce and Dinan — Bob sometimes calls them “The I and the Y” because of how they spell their names — train together on weekends.
When Luce and Dinan are training on weekends, Bob is their coach, so he’s coaching Elise all week as well as seeing her at home. Bob said he does think ahead sometimes about how he can say something as a coach, instead of as a father.
“He hasn’t officially been my coach for the whole time, but he’s been coaching me since I started skiing,” Elise said. “Some people think that it would be annoying, but he knows what I’m trying to work on. He knows how to communicate with me. It works really well.”
Elise is looking at continuing her skiing in college at either Castleton or St. Anselm.
“She has no clue what she wants to study, but she knows she wants to ski race,” Bob said.
Elise’s sister Erica skied at Castleton and recently graduated from the school, and another sister, Erin, is a sophomore on the ski team at Castleton. Elise said she visited St. Anselm as a freshman and “fell in love with it.”
Bob said either school would be a good fit for Elise as far as skiing competition.
“She’s not on a Division I level,” Bob said, “but on a Division III level with a good team, she can compete — maybe not win every race, but certainly able to break into the top 10 and top 15.”