The Maranacook Community High School girls Nordic team was favored to win the Class B championship, and Laura Parent wanted to be the one to lead the Black Bears there.

But the junior also knew there was an element to her repertoire that needed to be better if that was going to be the case.

“I think one of my main goals was just to improve overall, and I think classic was an area of focus there, too,” Parent said. “It wasn’t my strong suit last year, I’ve always been stronger in skate. So I think that was something I wanted to work on.”

By the time she was finished, there was no one in Class B better. Parent won the classical race at the state championships, and paired that with a second-place finish in the skate race to help the Black Bears win the Nordic crown. For her performance, Parent is the Kennebec Journal Girls Nordic Skier of the Year.

“It was a big year for improvement for me, definitely,” she said. “Kind of like a breakout year, I guess, realizing that I can go pretty fast.”

Parent was fine in both events as a sophomore, finishing sixth in the skate race and seventh in the classical at the Class B championships, but she knew there was a wider gap when it came to her level of comfort with the two disciplines. She had the physical ability to handle the upper body demands of the classical format, but just needed the instruction and the hours to hone it.

“She’s incredibly strong, just physically a very strong girl,” coach Steve DeAngelis said. “We always felt that she had the strength to be skiing classic better, but she needed to make some technical improvements with her quickness and her body position.”

The key was mastering the double-poling technique, allowing Parent to use that strength to pull herself along the trail tracks. It’s a difficult motion to perform without wasting movement, and though Parent put in time in the summer on roller skis and in the winter on snow, DeAngelis said progress didn’t take place overnight.

“When we first started to work on that she was saying ‘Oh, I’m not sure this is better,’ ” DeAngelis said. “But she kept working at it anyway. She believed us. She kept working on it, and it was getting better and better and better as the season went on.”

Parent saw the change taking place as well.

“Once I got the double-pole thing going, you could kind of see it from my results throughout the season,” she said. “I really improved a lot.”

The progress made itself clear at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships. Parent won the classical race at Titcomb Mountain, beating a loaded field that included eventual Class A state champion Julia Ramsey of Mt. Blue, and doing so by 45 seconds.

“She went out and dominated that race,” DeAngelis said. “She said ‘Mr. D, I just decided that I was going to make it hurt the entire race, and I was just going to go as hard as I could from the start of the race.’

“She realized in that race, I think, ‘I have more in me than I ever thought I did.’ ”

Her confidence continued to surge going into the state race at Black Mountain. In warmer conditions and slushy snow, Parent powered through to the classical win, then came within four seconds of sweeping the two races the next day in the skate.

“I was really psyched going in. … I was hoping that I could win, and I knew I just had to have a gutsy performance and just carry it out,” she said. “I knew that it would be a tough race, and I’d really have to push my limits. I knew that I could do well, and that was kind of my mindset.”

The team results came soon after, and just as she had hoped would be the case before the season, it was Maranacook doing the celebrating.

“Our team, especially the girls’ team, is really close,” she said. “Every year, we’ve basically been striving toward winning states. … We all worked hard, and we all wanted it. It was pretty awesome to see that come together.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM