Emma Charles of Mount Blue High School raises her arms Monday after winning the Class A Nordic classical state championship at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington this season. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover Buy this Photo

To say that Emma Charles finished her season strong would be an understatement.

Charles, a Mt. Blue sophomore, swept the freestyle and classical titles at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and the Class A championships, the second straight year she’s accomplished the feat.

For her strong season, Charles is the Central Maine Girls Nordic Skier of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Charles’ state championship week – which wrapped up Feb. 17 and 18 – was especially grueling, as she was also qualifying for the junior national team. Charles did indeed qualify for junior nationals.

“That was so fun,” Charles said. “I put 19.5 kilometers (of work) in four days. Two of those races were sprinting, the other two were regular. I was really nervous for states, because I knew (physically) it was going to hurt. The skate race really hurt. But afterward, I was able to qualify for junior nationals and then win states. That just felt really good, putting my body under so much stress, but still have the resilience to be able to finish and do well.”

First-year Nordic coach Emmy Held was impressed with Charles’ drive throughout the season and during state week.

“I could see (racing that much in one week) being not healthy for some people,” Held said. “But I think there’s something to be said that her determination is coming from within, it’s not coming from her coach or coming from her parents, she’s like ‘This is what I want to do.'”

Charles won both state championships in relatively dominating fashion. She finished the freestyle in 16:07.9, topping second-place finisher Eva Clement of Falmouth (16:32.8) by about 25 seconds. She cruised to a victory in the classical, finishing the event in 16:42.2, nearly a minute faster than teammate and runner-up Brynne Robbins (17:36.3).

The victories helped lead the Cougars to the Class A team title, the third state title for the program since 2016.

Held said one of Charles’ biggest strengths is her focus.

“She’s incredibly focused on her goals,” Held said. “It’s pretty amazing, especially for a sophomore… It’s not easy to do what she’s done. There’s kind of these two separate leagues of being on the Maine high school circuit, but also being part of the Eastern Cup races and qualifying for junior nationals, which was her goal from the beginning.”

“Compared to other athletes, there’s a lot of stuff I can improve with my form,” Charles added. “I think it’s the strength and mental toughness I have (as my biggest strength), to be able to push to the next level and make up for some of the not-so-good form.”

Charles still has two years to go in her high school career, and though she’s experienced plenty of success early, she said she still has areas to improve upon going forward.

“Definitely technique stuff,” Charles said. “Even this year, compared to last year, I’ve been able to make such an improvement… I haven’t thought of any goals yet for my technique, but I’m going to make a skate goal and a classic goal so I can work on that all year.”

“I think there’s just a lot more to do of learning how to manage training,” Held added. “Young skiers have a tendency to just work, work, work and train all the time… The cool thing is, Emma loves the science of (skiing). She’s always curious about waxing (her skis), she’s curious about the science behind training plans and is really fascinated by that. I think there’s more work we can do with that”

 

Dave Dyer – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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