Down time? Dan Lesko doesn’t have any time for down time. He certainly doesn’t want any.

“Whenever I end up with down time, I don’t know what to do with myself,” Lesko said.

A senior at Mt. Blue High School, Lesko has plenty of things that keep him busy. He plays trombone in the school’s jazz band. He’s a member of the Mt. Blue Curtain Raisers, the school’s improv comedy group.

And Lesko is one of the most accomplished high school Nordic skiers in the state. At the Class A state championship races in Fryeburg in February, Lesko placed third in both the freestyle and classical.

For his efforts, Dan Lesko is the Morning Sentinel Boys Nordic Skier of the Year.

“(Lesko) brings his intellect to it,” Mt. Blue Nordic ski coach Buzz Davis said. “He’s become remarkably good in just four years. We’re in a very competitive league, and he’s right there at the top.”

On Feb. 17, Lesko placed third in the Class A classical race with a time of 16 minutes, 3.1 seconds. The next day, he took third in the freestyle race with a time of 13:56.3.

“The weather was fantastic. It was the warmest weather we had all season,” Lesko said. “Great for racing.”

At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meets, Lesko placed third in the classical and second in freestyle.

“Given a few more races, he probably would have taken those guys (at states),” Davis said.

Compared to many of his opponents, Lesko is a still a novice. Lesko was a Nordic skiing newcomer when he joined the team as a freshman. He was looking for something to do that would help his training in between the cross country season in the fall and the outdoor track and field season in the spring. As a junior, Lesko had his Nordic breakthrough, finishing seventh in the Class A state classical race and sixth in the state freestyle championship. That success set up his strong senior season, Lesko said.

“Last year was a big part of that. I have my technique under control,” Lesko said.

That technique helped when it was time to run the state championship classical race. Lesko and his Mt. Blue teammates had raced the Fryeburg course earlier in the season, and remembered a relatively flat run. The course was tweaked for the state race to include another hill.

“Hills are probably one of my strengths,” Lesko said.

Lesko still sees himself primarily as a distance runner. He placed fifth in the Class A cross country championship meet last fall. Last spring, Lesko took sixth place in the 1,600 meter race at the Class A outdoor track and field championship.

“He’s able to bring that (runner’s) fitness level to skiing,” Davis said. “He really did a nice job perfecting that technique this year.”

If there’s a common thread throughout Lesko’s endeavors, be it athletic, musical, or on the stage, it’s confidence.

“Improv is a good confidence exercise,” Lesko said. “It takes confidence to compete. It takes confidence to be able to go on stage, and roll with it if a joke’s not funny.”

Lesko hasn’t decided on his college plans yet. Among the schools he’s considering are the University of Maine, Dartmouth, and Tufts.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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