Taylor Gordon of Mt. Blue High School races down Grey Ghost on Wednesday during the KVAC giant slalom championship at Saddleback Mountain in Sandy River Plantation. Gordon won the girls competition. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

It was a year of setbacks and challenges for reasons outside of local high school skiers’ control — but for those who persevered, the 2022-23 campaign was worth it.

With a warm start to the winter that included little snow, it was touch-and-go for ski teams across the state just to participate in the sport they love. Then, when that Maine winter weather finally came, it fell on days precisely when it wasn’t needed.

“We would finally have a race planned, and then it would either be stormy that day or way too cold,” said Brant Remington, Maranacook athletic director and a member of the Maine Principals’ Association Skiing Committee. “Then, you throw in the fact that you have a bus driver shortage, and there were some challenges.”

The persistence of Maine high school skiers was rewarded, though, with good conditions for the season’s championship races. In those races, central Maine skiers showed they belonged with the state’s best as they took home multiple team and individual titles.

Mt. Blue skiers dominated the slopes all year long, claiming numerous individual and team wins. The Cougars won boys and girls Class A state and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Nordic championships, while the girls team made it a sweep of the KVAC meet by adding an alpine title.

Leading the way for the Mt. Blue girls was Taylor Gordon, who was the 2019-20 Central Maine Skier of the Year as a freshman before spending her sophomore and junior seasons at Waterville Ski Academy. The senior returned even better, winning the KVAC slalom and giant slalom title, plus the Class A state title in the latter.


“As a freshman, she would hold back a little bit on her first run before dropping the hammer for her second run,” said Mt. Blue alpine head coach Mark Cyr. “This year, she didn’t hold back and was more consistent on both runs. That’s exactly what you want to see as a coach.”

For the Mt. Blue boys, Henri McCourt dominated on the Nordic track as he won the Class A state title in the classical, crossing the finish line in 16 minutes, 3 seconds to finish 33 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. He won the KVAC title in the classical pursuit, and took second at states.

Maranacook had a strong year on the alpine circuit, finishing second in the KVAC championships on the boys’ side and third in the Class B state championships on the girls’ side. The Black Bears were also strong in Nordic, placing third in both the boys and girls KVAC meets.

Leading the way for the Maranacook boys in the alpine events was Thatcher Riley, who won numerous races in the regular season and took second overall in the KVAC slalom championships. Phoebe Bell was a strong performer for the Maranacook girls, placing fourth in the giant slalom at KVACs.

In the Mountain Valley Conference ranks, the Mt. Abram boys had a brilliant season, winning both the alpine and Nordic conference titles. Charlie Pye ran away with the MVC slalom title for the alpine team, and Jeff Warnock, who enjoyed a breakthrough season, won the classical, classic pursuit and freestyle crowns in Nordic.

“For most of my time doing Nordic, there were a couple other skiers on the team that were faster than I was, but now that I’ve improved a lot, I’ve been able to fill their shoes now that they’re not here,” Warnock said after the Feb. 11 MVC championships. “As a team, it’s great to have the success we had. We have a lot of hard-working skiers.”

The Winthrop boys alpine team, led by the duo of Jaxon August and Will Grant, also made some noise in the MVC throughout the season. Rangeley’s Breezy Quimby had a strong alpine campaign for the Laker girls as she took third in the MVC championships.

Those championship meets went off without a hitch after the early-season struggles led to dry courses and numerous postponements. Although the February cold and storms frustrated many Mainers, the ideal race conditions were a reward to those on the ski circuit.

“It was hard to get out there at first, but everyone was kind of in the same boat, and we just had to deal with it,” Cyr said. “It was a late start, that’s for sure, but we managed and had a nice stretch there at the end.”

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