There was a time, not long ago, when Eli Yeaton’s racing often crossed the line from fast to reckless. In junior high school races, for example, Yeaton focused on speed, and not necessarily finishing the run.

“I didn’t care if I finished or went into the net. It didn’t matter,” Yeaton, a Mt. Blue High School sophomore, said.

This past season, though, Yeaton began to find the balance between skiing fast and skiing in control, and it showed in his results. After a pair of top-five finishes at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships, including a victory in the slalom, Yeaton took ninth place in the Class A state giant slalom championships and earned a spot on the Maine team that competed in the Eastern high school championships at Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire earlier this month.

For his efforts, Eli Yeaton is the Morning Sentinel Boys Alpine Skier of the Year. Also considered was Sam Smith, Yeaton’s Mt. Blue teammate.

Yeaton’s willingness to work hard and take to coaching were a big reason he was able to overcome his need to go fast, often too fast for course conditions, Mt. Blue alpine coach Mark Cyr said.

“In junior high, he was reckless. Probably 50 percent of the time he would fall” Cyr said. “Eli learned you can’t go 100 miles per hour through every section of a course. He’s smoother, more mature. I started to see it toward the end of the season last year.”

Now, Yeaton focuses more on tactics, as well as speed. And he’s skiing better now that he’s forced to correct for mistakes less, to regain control when he’s teetering on the verge of losing it.

“Now I just want to ski a clean, solid run,” Yeaton said. “Cleaner’s actually faster for me.”

Yeaton saw this new approach start to come together in an early season slalom race at Camden Snow Bowl.

“It was my first high school win,” Yeaton said.

In practice, Yeaton is focused on the task at hand and improving his times, Cyr said.

“The great thing is he comes to practice every day and works and works and works,” Cyr said. “He loves seeing times. Starts,whatever. He’s so competitive.”

Yeaton comes from a family of ski racers. He took part in his first race at age 5, and his father, Nate Yeaton, is Mt. Blue’s junior high ski coach. Yeaton grew up racing the trails at Titcomb Mountain.

“Ski racing’s been in my family a long time,” he said.

Yeaton adds he’s stronger in the slalom compared to the giant slalom. It’s a discipline with which he’s more familiar from his youth races at Titcomb, and that showed in the KVAC championships at his home mountain. After one run, Yeaton sat in second place, slightly behind Smith and slightly ahead of Hunter Bolduc, another Mt. Blue teammate. Knowing the Cougars were in good shape to sweep the top three spots as long he skied a smart second run, Yeaton was relaxed.

“I just wanted to have a clean run,” Yeaton said. “When one teammate does well, it brings up morale for all of us.”

Yeaton also plays soccer and lacrosse at Mt. Blue. His athleticism is a strong point, Cyr said.

“In the slalom, he’s so quick. He gets back under control. His athleticism just shows in the slalom,” Cyr said. “In the next year or two, he’ll probably be one of the best skiers in the state.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM