FARMINGTON — Like most teams, the Maranacook Community School girls Alpine team has its rituals and traditions. Senior Dana Reynolds calls them “a lot of kind of witchy, voodoo stuff, but not in a weird way.”

“We have this little spell we cast. We throw a dice in the hole and then we sprinkle some salt on it and we stomp on it. We just basically chant what we want out of the day. We go around in the circle. We do a plank together, and we ‘oohm.’ We do a chant,” Reynolds said.

In honor of Troy Bolton, the protagonist in their favorite movie, “High School Musical,” the Black Bears chant “head in the game” before a race.

“We have a team motto, Send It. We say ‘Let’s send it,'” Reynolds said. “If we’re lucky, we do. Or we crash.”

Rest assured, the Black Bears success on the slopes isn’t supernatural. It’s the result of a closeknit team of strong skiers working hard. With most of the key contributors back from last season’s Class B state title-winning team, Maranacook looks to repeat. The Class B Alpine state championships are scheduled for Feb. 19-20 at Black Mountain in Rumford.

“This is a team that’s been in the making for a long time,” Reynolds said.

In Wednesday’s slalom race at Titcomb Mountain, Maranacook placed second in the team standings, behind only Class A contender Mt. Blue. Six Black Bears finished in the top 14 of the two-run race.

“We definitely push each other to be better. The positions where we finish shift around a lot,” senior Katie Ide, who led Maranacook with a fourth-place finish, said.

Reynolds placed eighth at Titcomb in Wednesday’s race, as the sun and temperatures went down. Caroline Welch (ninth), Emily Harper (11th), Ella Delisle (12th) and Vita Scott (14th) also finished in the top 14 for the Black Bears. All 11 Maranacook skiers placed in the top 24 of the field of 44 competitors.

“We’ve got a good group of girls. We’re really close and working hard,” Scott said. “No pressure, really. We’re just trying to do our best.”

As well as Maranacook skied in Wednesday’s slalom race, they don’t see slalom as their best event. These Black Bears see themselves as stronger giant slalom skiers. The slalom rewards precision. The GS rewards speed. In the team’s vernacular, sending it.

“Our team just loves going fast,” Ide said.

“We’re at the smallest hill (Kents Hill) with not a lot of room to GS train. I think all our training before the season, working on our legs, kept us really strong and ready for GS,” Scott said.

The Black Bears have a giant slalom race scheduled for Saturday at Camden Snow Bowl. It’s a rehearsal for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships, set for next week, with giant slalom at Black Mountain on Wednesday and slalom at Titcomb on Saturday. This is not the time to make wholesale changes to skiing style, nor do the Black Bears need anything more than minor tweaks.

“Just some minor technique stuff. Get a little more aggressive on the course. But have fun at the same time,” Scott said of any adjustments she may need to make.

The Maranacook seniors have skied together since sixth grade, Reynolds said. They are entering the final weeks of a long journey, and they know what it will take to cap their careers with another title.

“We just need to make sure we don’t get too cocky. Winning last year, we have to make sure we don’t take it for granted and work hard. Coach (Ronn Gifford) had a nice talk with us about how we need to keep our focus up and don’t let our skis slip. We just have to go hard to win. There’s lots of good teams this year, a lot of competition,” Reynolds said.

When their skis hit the snow, it’s not magic the Black Bears tap into. It’s the confidence that comes when you know you’re well prepared. Of course, it never hurts to honor team traditions. Are there any more that Reynolds left out?

“I’m not going to give too much detail. We don’t want people stealing our ways,” Reynolds said.

We’ll call that a maybe. Reynolds smiled, and joined teammates to watch other teammates make their second run.


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