It’s a truth in Nordic skiing: Working hard doesn’t always mean working well.

It’s a theme Maranacook coach Steve DeAngelis has long taught his skiers. And one he especially wanted to sink in with Luke Bartol.

“A lot of skiing is figuring out how to get as much speed as possible for as little effort as possible,” DeAngelis said. “That’s about being efficient, being smooth. If you’re off-balance, you’re all over the place, you’re spazzing out, you might be working hard and thinking ‘Oh man, I’m killing myself,’ but that doesn’t necessarily make you fast.”

Bartol already had the work ethic. This winter, the results showed he figured out the efficiency. The junior finished second in both the Class B classic and freestyle races, helping to lead the Black Bears to the state championship. For his performance, Bartol is the Kennebec Journal Boys Nordic Skier of the Year.

“It was great to have some good individual results and great team results,” Bartol said. “I didn’t win a race in KVACs or states, but there were some really strong performances throughout the year, so I was really happy with that.”

“(He was) dramatically better, especially in his skate skiing. Just a huge difference,” DeAngelis said. “Last year there was a very large discrepancy between his classic results and his skate results. This year, not nearly as much.”

DeAngelis knew where Bartol could knock off time in the skate, or freestyle, events. He got his son, Tyler, to help Bartol during the summer in the hopes of turning his hard-charging style into one based more in style and technique.

“(Tyler) noticed that Luke was just hammering, just going as hard as he could all the time, but was not efficient, not very smooth,” DeAngelis said. “He convinced Luke, ‘You’ve got to slow down.’ Summer roller skiing and training, it’s all about putting in the miles and putting in the distance so you get your aerobic fitness, but it’s also about learning to ski efficiently.”

Bartol could see right away that the change would pay off.

“I would usually go out there and muscle through the course,” he said. “I’m a cross country runner, so I was more focused on going through the pain and pushing, versus trying to make it so I could be more efficient and use my energy better. And so that was something I definitely had to learn.”

Slowing down was a two-part process. One was learning to conserve his energy during the race, and the other was learning to conserve it between races while pursuing a busy schedule that included Eastern Cup races.

“The other part was learning what races to do,” Bartol said. “I had weekends where I’ve done three races in a weekend and you have to kind of learn how to conserve your energy. You can only race so much. I enjoy racing, so it was kind of hard for me to do.”

When it came time to race for Maranacook, however, Bartol didn’t need to look far for motivation. In Carter MacPhedran, Mark McLaughlin and Gabe Fein, all of whom had top-10 combined finishes at states, Bartol had plenty of push from his teammates.

“It’s really great to have such strong skiers at Maranacook,” he said. “It’s great to have those people to train with and really push you in training.”

As the season went on, Bartol’s finishes improved. He was third in both the KVACs in the freestyle and classic races, then was second in the states in Fort Kent in both races as the Black Bears placed four skiers in the overall top eight and rolled to the title.

“I know going into the state meet, it’s like a special occasion. I always embrace that, and seem to perform better,” Bartol said. “I really had that motivation to give it all.”

Giving it all wasn’t the issue. But Bartol learned as the season went on how to make sure his times showed it, and how to make sure the energy he had at the start of the race was there at the end.

“He consistently would come on at the end of races,” DeAngelis said. “He had the fitness. When other skiers would fade, he would not fade.”

And he’s got another year to build on his success. Bartol said he’s already looking forward to it.

“I love racing,” he said. “It’s so much fun.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM