Let’s just say that Julia Ramsey’s introduction to ski racing didn’t go … smoothly. The fourth-grader didn’t really want to go F.A.S.T.

“My dad was one of the coaches with the Farmington Area Ski Team, and every time he mentioned racing I’d burst into tears and say I didn’t want to race,” Ramsey recalled. “When I got to fifth grade, I still didn’t want to do it, but I tried it and it was fun. I thought that maybe it was something I wanted to do.

“I guess I had a hesitant start to racing.”

No matter. Ramsey mastered the art quickly, and this season she rebounded from illness to win the Class A individual state Nordic skiing championship. For her efforts, the Mt. Blue High School senior is the Morning Sentinel Girls Nordic Skier of the Year.

“I really wanted to go out with a bang, as everyone does their senior year,” Ramsey said. “I decided at the beginning of the season I would give it everything I’ve got.”

But getting to her senior year came with reservations. As a junior, Ramsey was sidelined by mononucleosis late in the winter, forced to miss the biggest meets at the end of the season. It took a mental toll on her, in addition to the obvious physical one that comes with lasting side effects related to fatigue.

“It think this year was a question of what does she want to do now,” Mt. Blue Nordic ski coach Claire Polfus said. “How hard did she want to push? Did she want to float through her senior season, or did she want to push and continue that trajectory she was on before?”

As for the before: Ramsey finished third overall in the Class A state meet as a sophomore and was on pace to at least be on the exclusively short list of state championship hopefuls last season before being hit with mono.

So, Ramsey entered this season with a degree of uncertainty about her ski racing.

“My whole season I was paranoid of getting sick, so I wanted to make sure I could race and be at top of my game to race. I was very conscious of my body, my health and my training so I could have my best at states,” Ramsey said. “I was surprised how much of a physical toll the illness had. I felt not really smooth with my skiing. It felt like it had taken a step backwards.”

At the Sassi Memorial race at Black Mountain in late January, Ramsey realized she was back. She won the classical race and then rolled to the state title in February, despite unseasonably warm temperatures.

While her showing as a sophomore suggested she had the talent to win a state title, Ramsey learned a lot about herself at the state meet.

“I’ll always remember how determined I was,” Ramsey said. “I’ve never skied that hard in my life, to the point where there was so much pain in my body.

“I left everything out there. You always say that after races, and you always say you skied as hard as you could, but now I know that I was lying all those other times. Now I know how it feels to really push myself to the edge and go past that.”

Polfus said she never doubted Ramsey’s ability to return to the top of the state’s high school skiing scene, even after losing half of her junior season and a bulk of the preseason training in advance of this winter.

“I’m not surprised. I know how much she really loves skiing,” Polfus said. “You can tell that about her, and that can really push someone. To see her rediscover her love of racing was really cool this year.”

Even if, as a fourth-grader, Ramsey wasn’t all that keen on it.

“When my mom was pregnant with me, she would ski. Shortly after I was born, I was in a backpack. I was skiing before I could walk,” said Ramsey, who is undecided on what she will do next year after graduation. “I don’t remember the first time I put on skis, but I remember always skiing in our amazing community with our family, just in our backyard. I’m proud of my classical technique, and the reason I am is that I’ve grown up on classical skis, in the powder, romping around in the woods.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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