Abi Zagnoli’s debut skier-x race ended with an injury that would have prompted many athletes to choose a new sport.

“I overshot a jump on the course,” Zagnoli, a 15-year old Carrabassett Valley Academy freshman, said.

Zagnoli suffered a pair of dislocated shoulders in the crash, but she wasn’t deterred from her new sport.

Barely two and a half months later, Zagnoli was national champion.

“She’s fearless,” Mike Mallon, CVA’s skier-x coach, said. “She’s just not afraid to go for it.”

On Monday at Copper Mountain, Colo., Zagnoli took first place in the girls 13-15 year-old age group in the skier-x competition at the USASA Ski and Snowboard National Championship. Bianca Marcello, also skiing for CVA, took second place in the same group.

Skier-x is the skier’s version of boardercross, the race through a course of sharp turns and jump popularized by two-time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott. This past season, CVA added skier-x to the list of snow sports it offers.

Zagnoli, who also recovered from a concussion this season, came to the sport this season after competing in slopestyle, a form of freestyle skiing in which the athlete performs difficult tricks. Zagnoli’s older brother, Rolie, competes in boardercross, but Zagoni was attracted to skier-x.

“I tried (boardercross) once, but I liked skiercross better,” Zagoni, who lives with her family in Carrabassett Valley, said.

Zagnoli’s injury kept her off the course for a month. When she was healthy and ready to compete, Mallon scoured the Northeast for races.

“We worked hard to bounce around New England and try to find some more races. We did some smaller events to get her confidence up,” Mallon said. “She had a few injuries earlier in the season, but she paid attention to her rehab and trained hard.”

In training, Zagnoli spent a lot of time on starts. The first leg of a course is typically 100 yards of rollers and jumps in which space is created between the four competitors. If you have a good start, it’s easier to follow the line you practiced, and you’re less likely to be distracted by the chaos that comes when surrounded by three other competitors skiing fast through the turns and jumps.

“The difficult part is when you get other people around you to follow that line. Ideally, you get out in front and don’t have to worry about it,” Mallon said.

Zagnoli said she wasn’t able to completely focus on her run and ignore everything around her until the national championships.

“Figured out at nationals to finally just focus on myself,” Zagnoli said.

Following a time trial, Zagnoli had to make it through three heats to win the national title. Her closest race came in the second heat, she said. As she approached the finish line, Zagnoli could sense a challenger coming on hard, but that girl fell, and Zagnoli was on to the finals.

“At nationals I was pretty nervous. I didn’t think I was going to get first,” Zagnoli said. “Finals was scary. I was in the gate talking to myself. ‘You can do this Abi. Stay on your feet.’ “

Zagnoli not only stayed on her feet, her effort opened some doors. In June, she’ll take part in Project Gold, a U.S. Ski Team skier-x camp at Mt. Hood in Oregon, an invitation-only camp for the top competitors in the country.

One of Zagnoli’s goals is to compete at the Junior Nationals. Further down the road, there’s the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I think that’s probably where she’s headed,” Mallon said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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