Mt. Blue’s Jack Kearing skis on his edges Tuesday during his second giant slalom run at the KVAC boys Alpine ski championships at Black Mountain in Rumford. Kearing won both the giant slalom and the slalom race, helping the Cougars to a first-place finish in the team competition. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

It may not have been a perfect high school ski season in Maine. But of all the winter sports offered during the coronavirus pandemic, it was the closest to resembling a typical season.

While the Maine Principals’ Association did not offer state championship meets this winter, teams were still able to participate in regular season and conference championships. Skiers wore masks and no fans were permitted at race sites. Area teams took full advantage. Mt. Blue won Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titles in boys and girls Alpine, as well as girls Nordic. In the Mountain Valley Conference championships, Mt. Abram took home boys Nordic and boys Alpine titles, while Rangeley cruised to an MVC girls Alpine championship.

“I was pretty confident that things were going to be pretty seamless,” Mt. Blue Alpine coach Mark Cyr said. “Not a lot of difference from a normal year to this year, and that pretty much held up. At the start, we had to be a little more cautious about (whether) maybe the kids should stay in their pods with their team. At the finish, making sure the kids weren’t hugging for high-fiving, just tiny, little things.”

“There were two or three times when, at the start area of our races — before the race even started — I was up there and kind of played the COVID cop,” Maranacook Alpine coach Ronn Gifford said. “Just said ‘Hey, remember, here’s the guidelines, here’s the rules.’ Laid them all out and was like ‘Sorry to be the COVID cop.’ And every time I said that, at least two or three kids spoke up and said. ‘No, no, we want you to be the COVID cop, because we want to keep skiing.’ From that standpoint, everybody was great.”

Gifford said in some ways, the season provided ways for meets to be run more smoothly in the future.

“We did coaches meetings for the conference meet on Zoom the night before,” Gifford said. “Which really frees up, particularly the coaches, but also the host. The race directors, the course setters, it frees them up in the morning so they don’t have to deal with that half hour or whatever length of time the coaches meetings last. Get it done the night before, get it done on Zoom and it’s actually probably a more laid back and potentially effective means of doing it than sitting in a room when coaches are anxious to get out on the hill with their kids.”

With team titles came plenty of individual success.

In Alpine, Jack Kearing swept the slalom and giant slalom events for Mt. Blue at the KVAC championships, while teammates Josh Smith (second in giant slalom) and Xander Gurney (eighth in giant slalom, sixth in slalom). The Cougars captured the girls Alpine crown on the collective effort of Katie Yeaton (third in slalom), Sadie McDonough (fifth in giant slalom, fifth in slalom), Khloe Dean (eighth in slalom) and Abbie Goodspeed (eighth in giant slalom).

“We had a pretty strong team, they did well at the KVACs,” Cyr said. “I’m obviously biased, but I think our conference, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, for Alpine skiing, is the strongest in the state. We do very well when we go to states, both (Class) As and Bs. Mt. Blue was very successful at the KVACs, so I know we would have done really well at states.”

The Mt. Abram boys Alpine team wrapped up its MVC title thanks to Sully Butler (second in slalom), Tre Pease (fifth in slalom, sixth in giant slalom) and Ian Allen (seventh in giant slalom). The Rangeley girls Alpine team took five of the top six spots in the slalom competition — won by Rangeley’s Breezy Quimby — and five of the top seven spots in the giant slalom, with Amelia Stokes finishing second.

Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles continued to solidify her position as the state’s best female Nordic skier, sweeping both the classical and freestyle titles at the KVAC meet for the third consecutive year.

Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles crests a hill near the finish of the freestyle pursuit race on March 10 at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Charles won the race and the overall KVAC title. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“It’s awesome (to win),” Charles said after wrapping up her freestyle win at KVACs. “Especially since we don’t have states. Just the fact that we were able to have these kind of races, in general, is pretty sick. Being able to come out on top is also definitely pretty cool. We definitely worked hard this season. It’s not ideal, but we worked together as a team.”

Mt. Blue almost swept the titles at the KVAC meet, with the boys team finishing a close second to champion Oxford Hills. Carson Zundel (third classical, sixth in freestyle) was the Cougars’ top finisher.

Alex Hemingway swept the freestyle and classical events to lead Mt. Abram to its MVC boys Nordic title, with teammate Cam Walters following Hemingway in both events. The duo finished in the exact same places in the same events as they had in the 2020 MVC championships. Jeff Warnock finished fourth in both events for the Roadrunners.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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