When it comes to skiing conditions and getting ready for the high school skiing season, it’s all a matter of perspective.

There is no denying the rain and warm temperatures that accompanied the start of the holiday break last week raised some concerns about the Alpine and Nordic seasons, which are slated to begin at the end of this week.

Lack of snow to start the season is far from unprecedented, however. Just last January, rain delayed the start of the Alpine schedule. But this year, skiers and ski coaches are dealing with different frustrations.

Thanks to the heavy snowfall in late November, Maranacook has actually had more preseason time on the trails this year than it did last year, according to Nordic coach Steve DeAngelis. Unfortunately, that has made the recent warm spell even more frustrating.

“When you get to ski, then you can’t ski anymore, it’s kind of hard for a skier (to handle it),” DeAngelis said.

To cope, the Black Bears have increased their circuit training and core exercises in recent weeks. Many skiers also traveled last Monday to Sugarloaf, where conditions are still good on the trails, and plan to return Monday.

The plan is to get ready for the Telstar Relays at Telstar High School in Bethel on Saturday. While the event, with its co-ed format, is an exhibition, it is one of the highlights on the high school Nordic calendar.

“They have a pretty flat course, so it doesn’t take a ton of snow to cover it,” DeAngelis said on Saturday. “I’m hoping they held on (through the recent warm weather).”

An announcement on mainehighschoolskiing.com on Sunday said the event was still on but with a venue change that has yet to be announced. Another preseason event, the Middle School/High School Sprints at Black Mountain in Rumford, was also on as scheduled for Tuesday.

Alpine skiers also had extra reason to be thankful last month but their optimism for an on-time start to the season is also melting away. Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr had the Cougars on the slopes quickly.

“Titcomb jumped on the wagon early and made a sufficient amount of snow,” Cyr said. “We’ve had very little dry land training. In fact, we had one day of dry land training before we were able to get on snow.”

The Cougars were skiing Titcomb even before the lifts started operating, as Cyr used a snowmobile and rope to tow his skiers up the hill for the first week-and-a-half of skiing.

“We feel fortunate we’ve been able to get on snow,” he said.

Cyr added, however, that some skiers have short memories. He noted his team had virtually no time on the snow last year before the season started and couldn’t wait to just get on the slopes. This year, while the skiing opportunities have been plentiful, the kids are anxious to start racing.

The Cougars have scheduled some time at Saddleback and Sugarloaf to get some big hill training before their season begins on Friday with a KVAC/MVC giant slalom race at Black Mountain. Cyr said he hasn’t heard how conditions are at Black Mountain, although the mountain is traditionally “pretty proactive when it comes to snowmaking.”

“I’ll probably wait until Monday or Tuesday before I start panicking,” he said. “I think we’re ready.”

• • •

Local cross country skiers did get in some competition before the rains came at the Billy Chenard Memorial Race, held Dec. 20 at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.

The race was shortened from the traditional 5K freestyle to one 2.5K loop.

Maranacook’s Luca DeAngelis won the boys race in 7 minutes,14 seconds, 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Iain Kurry of Falmouth. Ethan Harriman of Maranacook finished once second behind him in third. John Parent was 22nd.

“It went great for us, but at the same time, you can’t read a lot into it because it’s a short race and it’s early in the season,” DeAngelis said.

Senior Colby Watts, who has been battling back problems, sat out the race.

The Black Bears won the team standings with 41 points, followed by Mt. Blue with 48. Gould Academy of Bethel was third with 68 points.

Mt. Blue’s Nolan Rogers tied for sixth.

Falmouth won the girls race with 28 points, beating Mt. Blue by 10 points. Maranacook (69) was third.

Freeport’s Lily Johnston was the individual winner with a time of 8:26. Oxford Hills’ Julia Dillon (9:07) finished second, holding off Telstar’s Carla Boyle-Wright (9:08) and Julia Ramsey of Mt. Blue (9:09). Maranacook’s Abigail Despres (sixth) and Hannah Despres (ninth) and Aimee Sala of Kents Hill ( seventh) also posted top-10 finishes.

• • •

Whenever the season starts for Mt. Blue, Cyr will return largely the same roster that won last year’s Class A boys Alpine state championship and combined with the Nordic team for an overall state title.

“We’re going to be pretty strong,” Cyr said.

Felix Bonnevie, who finished ninth overall in Class A last year, moved to California, is the only skier not returning. Other key contributors from last year are junior Kyle Farrington, who was eighth overall, sophomore Miles Pelletier (15th) and senior Anthony Franchetti (20th).

“From what I’ve seen so far, they’re working hard and skiing well. So everything should be in place for a great season,” Cyr said.

• • •

The Maine Principals’ Association made some major format changes to this season’s state skiing championships.

The Alpine and Nordic championships will take place over two days, rather than be spread out over a three-day period like last year.

All of the races will take place over February vacation, a return to the traditional schedule after waiting until the week following the break to conclude last year. This year’s championships take place Feb. 16-18.

The Class A Nordic championships will be held at Stark’s Hill in Fryeburg on Feb. 17-18. Classes B and C will race concurrently but be scored separately at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle on Feb. 16-17. Mt. Abram hosts the Class A Alpine championship Feb. 17-18, while Class B and Class C will race at Big Rock in Mars Hill Feb. 16-17.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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