CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Rain turned to freezing rain, which turned to sleet, which turned to snow. The wind picked up, blowing whatever precipitation falling at that moment sideways. Competitors in the women’s giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships were getting a taste of some famous brutal weather at Sugarloaf Mountain.

“We’re used to Sugarloaf. We’re used to the hard terrain and the hard conditions. We see wind. We see snow. We see it all together,” Colby College ski coach Danny Noyes said. “If you’re thinking too much, if you’re trying to be a little too technical or calculating, then you will not ski fast. In conditions like this, I just stress to them, you’ve seen this before. You’ve done it. Now let’s think about going faster. When the rest of the field is worried about the snow, the ice, oh somebody just fell, our kids our thinking ‘I’ve done this before. This is easy.’ It’s not easy.”

To Colby senior Mardi Haskell, the miserable weather seemed appropriate for what may have been her final race as a competitive skier.

“The surface, the snow is perfect, so you can really do what you want with the snow and attack. (Sunday) was sunny and was a blessing, but I think this is perfect for my last day,” Haskell said moments after completing her first GS run.

Haskell ended up in 11th in Monday’s giant slalom competition. That, combined with her eighth-place finish in the slalom on Sunday, likely ended Haskell’s competitive skiing career. For much of her college career, Haskell fought a back injury, and this season, Noyes estimated that injury limited her to around 40 percent of her normal training time. In May, Haskell will graduate from Colby with a biology degree, and soon after she’ll begin work with a biotech firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

If the hug Haskell shared with her mother after her second GS run symbolized the end of her racing career, it’s the end of a career full of highlights. A three-year captain, Haskell leaves the Colby program with four All-American honors to her credit. The most recent came when she placed 10th in the giant slalom at the NCAA championships at Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire earlier this month. In 2016, Haskell earned All-American in the slalom. The year before, she earned All-American status in the slalom and giant slalom, her sophomore season at Colby.

“She’s a super-driven person. I know she was pumped for the year. She always has a good attitude and is cheering us on to do our best. There’s no pressure from her. She’s like our mom,” Colby freshman Jessica Reinhart said.

Reinhart was one of three Colby freshman — along with Sandra Schoepke and Alexandra Hanus — who joined Haskell in representing the Mules in the U.S. championships this week.

“She told us to have fun with it, just do our best. It’s really cool to be here,” Hanus said.

Haskell came to Colby as a prized recruit, Noyes said, but finished just outside All-American status (a top 10 finish at the NCAA championship) her freshman season.

“That made her a little bit more hungry, realizing when you ski in college, you have less time to get done what you need done. She did a good job of going back to the gym, going back to the training hill and figuring out what she could do to get faster,” Noyes said. “She’s a special talent. You always like it when the best athletes are the hardest workers. That’s what Mardi is.”

Noyes pointed to Haskell’s two All-American honors in the giant slalom as proof of her improvement.

“Mardi used to be a slalom specialist who happened to be pretty good at GS. Now, she’s skiing fast GS,” Noyes said.

Entering Sunday’s slalom race, Noyes felt a top-five finish was possible.

“I don’t want that to downplay her result, because it was fantastic. First run, she was a second and a half out, so she was in spitting distance of the top three, the top five,” Noyes said. “She was a little bummed. I said to her, ‘Mardi, what was your best U.S. Nationals result ever?’ She smiled and goes ‘That was it.'”

“I just wanted to perform well. I think I had two good runs, and I was happy with it. I was just happy to be ranked with the top girls,” Haskell added.

Although the college season is over, Haskell carried over her duties as Colby’s captain to the U.S. championships, offering advice to her younger teammates.

“We were talking on the chair lift this morning. A huge thing for her is, just be so aggressive. It matters how good you’re skiing, but if you’re super aggressive down the hill, then you can make up for the things you lack in your skiing. She’s given us a lot of mindset advice. She’s a great captain,” Schoepke said.

Added Noyes: “You want it to be somebody who knows what’s best (for the team). Being able to trust Mardi as a sophomore, knowing that her opinion is going to be what’s best, as opposed to what’s easiest, opposed to what’s most popular. That’s why she got that title early on. She earned it.”

Haskell said she’ll stay involved with ski racing in some capacity, maybe coming up on weekends to help with the Mules or volunteer when Colby hosts a carnival at Sugarloaf. Haskell’s final NCAA championship was at Cannon, her mountain back home in Holderness, New Hampshire. A national championship race at Sugarloaf, her adopted home mountain, was a perfect place at which to end.

“I feel really lucky to have skied for Colby. I love my teammates. I have nothing but positives to take from my career… It couldn’t have lined up better,” Haskell said. “Nothing but positive things to end on. It’s all good.”

With it over, Haskell followed her own advice.

“It’s over so quickly, so you have to go out and attack it every day. It’s going to be over before you know it,” she said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.