Sometimes, all it takes is a eureka moment.

After a successful freshman season, Maranacook’s Maura Taylor had some sluggish moments in her sophomore skiing campaign.

After a talk with coach Steve DeAngelis — and a moment of self-realization — Taylor changed her game for the better, and the results showed. Taylor had a fifth-place finish in the freestyle at the Class B state championships at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington on Feb. 19, and finished fifth in pursuit, finishing as the Black Bears’ top female Nordic skier at the event.

For her accomplishments, Taylor is the Kennebec Journal Girls Nordic Skier of the Year. Taylor was not available for comment for this story, as she was on a trip to Germany.

DeAngelis said he noticed early this season that Taylor — who was named a captain at the beginning of the season — was doing a great job helping her teammates prepare for races but was still having some struggles with her own performances on the course.

“She still was not skiing as fast as she could,” DeAngelis said. “We had a little talk before the Cougar Soft 7 (Jan. 16 at Titcomb Mountain) about going out there much harder, skiing with energy the whole time and seeing how it builds for her.”

The change started to show almost immediately

“At the top of the hill, she was right with (St. Dominic’s) Emily Gerencer, who is one of the best skiers in the state,” DeAngelis said. “She was even ahead of her for a little while. But then on the downhill, Emily pulled right away from her, because Maura had not worked hard on the downhills yet, didn’t have the confidence. But she realized ‘Holy mackerel, I can ski with these really good skiers if I really push myself.’ A lot of times, so much of it is in your head, knowing that you can do it.”

Taylor finished that race in third place, bested only by Gerencer and Class A champion Emma Charles of Mt. Blue.

That success followed Taylor back to Titcomb for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Feb. 6. She finished fourth in the classical, fourth in the freestyle and fourth in pursuit. Taylor carried that over the Class B championships a week later.

“By the state meet, she was a much better downhill skier,” DeAngelis said. “I think that was the real key to her having such a strong KVAC and state meet.”

Taylor’s efforts at the state championship meet helped Maranacook to a fourth-place finish, just one point away from a top three finish. A senior next year, Taylor will be the leader of a strong group of young skiers, which includes Cambelle Nutting and Ashley Cray.

And after her eureka moment, Taylor will have the chance to ski a full season with the confidence that she can ski with the best in the state.

“So much (of success) is that confidence and believing in yourself that you can really do this,” DeAngelis said.

Dave Dyer – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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