Someone showed Ronn Gifford a series of photographs of Erin Guilmet’s state championship-winning run in the slalom at Big Rock in Presque Isle. It was a run the Maranacook Community School Alpine coach had seen mostly from a distance, near the start gate.

Having watched Guilmet, a junior, from that vantage point for several years, Gifford wasn’t stunned by what he saw, but he was impressed, nevertheless.

“Every turn was in the perfect place and the timing was perfect and the positioning at the gate was perfect,” he said.

Guilmet combined her technical prowess with a strong competitive streak and continued her ascension as one of the top skiers in Class B. For the second time in three years, she is the Kennebec Journal Girls Alpine Skier of the Year.

Guilmet also earned the honor after a strong freshman season, which she capped with a seventh-place finish in the state slalom championship.

She was the state runner-up as a sophomore, and announced to Gifford during dry-land training that she was extra-motivated for a great junior year. But it wasn’t because she seemed to have a state title at her fingertips.

“This year, the ski team really motivated me to push harder,” she said. “I’ve never seen a group of kids more passionate about skiing.”

The rest of the team feeds off Guilmet’s energy and encouragement, too, Gifford said.

“She’s not only a fantastic skier and a great competitor, she’s an unbelievable teammate and leader,” he said.

Guilmet is usually the first to arrive for practice and the last to leave, staying until all of her teammates have finished their last run down the hill.

“I really respect when someone is waiting for me at the bottom and talks to me about my run,” she said. “I want to be there for them, too, because we really have a lot of people devoted to skiing.”

At least part of Guilmet’s devotion can be attributed to her skiing pedigree. Her father, Eric, is a ski instructor and Maranacook Middle School coach. Erin has been coached to do the right thing when it’s her turn to go down the hill, too.

“You certainly see that in her racing,” Gifford said. “She’s very balanced and very confident on her skis.”

Guilmet skied confidently during the season, finishing in the top three or four in virtually every Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference/Mountain Valley Conference race. She won the KVAC slalom title after shaving nearly a half-second off her time in her second run.

There was no second run at Big Rock. Organizers had to cram the slalom and giant slalom into one day, meaning each race would consist of just one run.

Not surprisingly, Guilmet approached the high-pressure environment with the same kind of balance she would later show negotiating the gates and won the slalom title by over one second.

“It was stressful,” said Guilmet, who finished fourth in the giant slalom. “But skiing is just a mental game. You have to go in with an open mind and just go for it.”

Guilmet said she is looking forward to taking the same approach into next season, and is excited that the entire Maranacook team, with the exception of one current senior on the boys team, will be back to share it with her.

“It was a fun season. It was definitely a real good one,” she said. “I can’t wait until next year.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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