RUMFORD — Nate Nicols has made a habit of finishing on the podium in nearly every race in which he’s been entered this season.
Why should he let the fact that Tuesday’s race decided a state championships make any difference?
Nicols posted the best time in each of two runs Tuesday to claim the Class C state giant slalom crown at Mt. Abram Ski Resort, finishing in a combined time of 1:31.80.
“He skied really well,” Mountain Valley coach Seth Fournier said. “He made a conservative, smart run on his second run. When he’s done that, when he’s finished standing up, he’s pretty much been on the podium every time.”
Nicols’ first-place finish also led a strong first day of racing for the Falcons, who are within striking distance for the overall Class C alpine title after the giant slalom. The Slalom races are slated for Wednesday, back at Mt. Abram.
Nicholas Woods added the Mountain Valley total with a fifth-place finish, bolstering his standing in the skimeister competition, as well.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Fournier said. “We’ve never really skied against some of these teams. Fort Kent we’ve never seen, Freeport and John Bapst we’ve rarely ever seen.”
The Falcons (50 points) trail Fort Kent (42) and John Bapst (45), but with the slalom race yet to come, Fournier and his troops feel right at home.
“We’re as comfortable as you can be, with the slalom race left,” Fournier said.
Winthrop’s John Jansen placed third after jumping two places in his second run. Cody Boivin of Telstar placed sixth, and Jonathan Hudson, representing St. Dom’s, finished in 12th.
Class C girls’ alpine
Falcons were meant to fly.
Tuesday, those wearing maroon were just a bit faster than those in blue.
Elly Bengtsson led all skiers with a blazing run of 1:37:15 in ideal ski racing conditions at Mt. Abram, leading her Freeport Falcons teammates to a 1-5-8-9 finish and a commanding lead of the Class C state alpine skiing championships after the first day of competition.
Mountain Valley (also the Falcons) skiers Katherine Collette and Sarah Klein finished third and fourth to break up the Freeport pack.
“Freeport is just so deep,” Fournier said. “We’re pretty comparable at the top end, but at the bottom end, they’re looking really good.”
Mountain Valley’s performance Tuesday placed the school in third in the alpine competition, behind Freeport and Fort Kent. Alexa Pelletier led the Warriors’ effort with a runner-up finish to Begtsson, more than three seconds back.
Olivia Tsouprake of Winthrop also cracked the top 10 with a seventh-place finish, and Rachel Wheeler of Telstar just missed, placing 11th after stumbling on her first run.
Based on first run times, Mountain Valley also had a chance to swipe second overall from Fort Kent. But one of the team’s skier stumbled on her first run.
“They skied really well,” Fournier said. “We had one crash that kind of hurt us on the first run, but overall they all skied really well.”
Still, Fournier said making it into the top two isn’t out of the realm of possibility, considering Wednesday’s race shifts to slalom.
“It would be nice to sneak in there,” Fournier said. “We haven’t come up on the slalom yet, and this is the toughest slalom course we race on in high school skiing, so that could make a big difference (Wednesday).”
In the overall competition for the Class C state crown, Freeport took a big step Tuesday. Neck-in-neck after the first day of nordic competition with Fort Kent, these Falcons were 20 points better than the Warriors on the hill, giving them a comfortable cushion with that slalom race on the horizon.
Class C boys’ nordic
For as many big races as Telstar’s Adam Mahar as completed, there was something special to this week.
The Telstar senior, a top Nordic skier state-wide, skied in his final state title race Tuesday. After a fifth-place finish in Monday’s classical race, Mahar added a seventh-place finish to his resume in the freestyle Tuesday.
“It was good; it was a super fast course,” Mahar said. “Down the hills, that was fun, fast. I’m pretty happy with it, and now I’m looking forward to the qualifiers. This was a good way to end the season.”
On the team front, North Yarmouth Academy followed an 18-point performance Monday with a 15-point effort Tuesday, giving the Panthers the Class C nordic crown by a 39-point margin over Merriconeag. Those were the only two schools to finish with fewer than 100 points. Fort Kent tied Telstar for third with 192, while Freeport came in at No. 5.
Dylan Thombs of Monmouth placed 11th in the freestyle, just missing a second top 10 in as many days. Ben Lewis of Telstar and Nicholas Woods, the leading skimeister candidate, placed 20th.
Class C girls’ nordic
Dominant didn’t begin to describe the Merroconeag-Waldorf school’s performance Tuesday.
One day after bolting out in front of the field in the Class C classical competition, the school with a campus in New Gloucester did itself one better in the freestyle, placing skiers in the top three positions as well as in seventh to run away with the combined nordic crown. The team’s 13 points are three shy of a perfect score.
Zoe and Emeli Chace-Donahue of Merriconeag again led the charge at 1-2, followed by teammate Samantha Pierce in third. Teagan Wu, one of the later skiers to start the race, broke into the top 10 near the end of the afternoon race in seventh position.
The race for the overall Class C crown also heated up Tuesday. The Class C alpine competition got under way at Mt. Abram, and with a strong performance on the hill, Freeport tried to put itself into position to capture another Class C crown. The Falcons were 20 points better than Fort Kent in the giant slalom after trailing in the classical by six. Fort Kent got those points back in the afternoon freestyle race, defeating Freeport for second in the discipline by 16. The Warriors are not two points up on Freeport for the overall crown with the slalom to come Wednesday.
Individually, Winthrop’s Rachel Ingram was the top area skier, crossing in 20th position. Sylvia Lutick of Dirigo and Isabel Gerencer of St. Dom’s also cracked the top 25.
Class B alpine
Elise and Erin Luce proved too powerful for perennial contending Yarmouth on Tuesday as the Mt. Abram sisters cruised to a 1-2 finish in the girls’ giant slalom event at the Class B state championships at Big Rock.
Elise captured first place with a run of 1:18.91, while sister Erin timed in at 1:22.91.
The Roadrunners as a team, though, trail Yarmouth and Camden Hills in the alpine competition. The Clippers placed three skiers in the top 10 and four in the top 15 to score 32 points, four better than the Windjammers. Mt. Abram is in third with 48 total points.
Emily Listowich was a 14th-place finisher for the Roadrunners. Katie Morency led Gray-New Gloucester’s entry in 21st position, while Cassidee Couture represented Spruce Mountain in 27th position.
On the boys’ side, Cody Jacques led the tri-county area contingent with a sixth place finish, more than three seconds back of Cape Elizabeth’s Sam Barber, the event winner. Barber’s brother, Max, came in second.
“(Jacques) got his arm hooked a panel on his first run,” Spruce Mountain coach Kenny Jacques, Cody’s father, said. “He did much better on his second.”
Cody Jacques completed his second run faster than anyone else in the race to climb back into sixth.
“He really put together a good second run, he went after it,” Kenny Jacques said. “Now we’ll come back and go after it again in the slalom.”
Maranacook, meanwhile, didn’t place any skiers in the top six, but placed all four top skiers among the top 13 to pull within two points of Yarmouth for the Class B alpine crown. Matthew Delmar led the Black Bears in seventh.
Eric Wilcox of Gray-New Gloucester also cracked the top 10, falling into place at No. 9.
Class B nordic
Abby Mace of Maranacook got the showdown she was anticipating at the Class B nordic championship Tuesday.
The challenge didn’t come from one of her more expected opponents.
Mace, a late starter in the 49-girl field, blazed the course in 16:03.7 to capture the Class B classical crown. The next three finishers all hailed from ski-rich Yarmouth as the Clippers dominated the first day of competition, posting a 15-point advantage over Caribou.
Sadie James of Mt. Abram, one of the state’s best skiers regardless of class, did not start the race.
Adrian Huntington of Maranacook placed seventh and Caroline Colan ninth for the Black Bears, who are right on Caribou’s heels for second, just five points behind.
On the boys’ side, Yarmouth nearly swept the top four, placing skiers in first, third, fourth and sixth to take a commanding, 15-point lead over Caribou. Mt. Abram, led by Trent Rosenberg’s ninth-place finish, is in third. Thomas Faraday, Jay Chenard and Nicholas Carlton also crowded the top 14 for the Roadrunners.