Olivia Tsouprake joined the ski team in seventh grade to be with her friends. She remembers finishing last in most of the races.

Now a sophomore at Winthrop High School, Tsouprake has moved from the back of the pack to the front.

“As I gained experience, I felt like I improved,” Tsouprake said.

Tsouprake did indeed improve this season, finishing in the top 10 in both the giant slalom and slalom races at both the Mountain Valley Conference and Class C state championships.

“When I got to the MVCs and had top 10, I was so excited,” she said. “I felt like I had accomplished so much.”

For her outstanding season, Tsouprake has been named the Kennebec Journal Girls Alpine Skier of the Year. Monmouth’s Becki Bryant and Maranacook’s Maddy Chiappetta were also considered.

Winthrop coach Eric Guilmet, who has worked with Tsouprake for four seasons, started to see her improve last season.

“She came into this sport in seventh grade with little background in skiing and no experience in ski racing,” Guilmet said.

Tsouprake finished fifth in the slalom and sixth in the giant slalom at the conference championships. She followed that with a seventh-place finish in the giant slalom and ninth-place finish in the slalom at the Class C state championships.

“After we did dry-land training this year and had a couple of races, I felt like I was getting better,” she said. “I feel I improved, I was more aggressive and I was skiing the course.”

Guilmet added: “This year she took it to a higher level and I believe she is truly loving the sport of ski racing. She learns quickly because she watches and listens well and has great enthusiasm.”

For Tsouprake it took awhile to shift gears from the free skiing she grew up with to the more disciplined style of Alpine skiing. At first she was extremely nervous taking on some of the steep courses but eventually became comfortable.

“It has been a lot different than free skiing,” Tsouprake said. “It was tough starting out. I used to ski trying to avoid the gates. I saw everyone do it and I figured I do it, too.”

 


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