GREENWOOD — One of the first skiers down the mountain, Nate Nicols had plenty of time to watch the carnage that followed.
Seven disqualifications for missing a gate and nearly a dozen slips and/or falls that cost several skiers — including Mountain Valley teammate Nicholas Woods — precious seconds marred the first of two slalom runs on the third and final day of competition at the Class C State Skiing Championships at Mt. Abram.
With the top run of the morning under his belt, Nicols shied away from watching all of the slips and falls.
“I went up, got away from everyone and listened to some music,” Nicols said.
Nicols’ time of 37.95 on the second run was two seconds faster than the next best time, and his combined time of 1:15.51 was nearly four seconds clear of second place as the Mountain Valley senior earned his second individual state crown in as many days with a win in the slalom event Wednesday.
“I tried to block everything else out,” Nicols said. “I’m out here racing against myself, not against anyone else.”
That’s been Nicols’ M.O. all season. In 10 races, he won five, finished third in one and crashed in four others.
“Skiing like Bode,” Nicols said with a smile, referring to the U.S. Ski Team’s Bode Miller, who has a long history of all-or-nothing racing.
Nicols and his teammates were in a tight race for the Class C alpine crown, too. But Woods’ fall in the first run, and a small stumble in the second run by Jared Arsenault killed the Falcons’ chances to unseat Fort Kent at the top.
“We don’t have a ton of depth this year,” Mountain Valley coach Seth Fournier said. “We couldn’t really afford to make many mistakes. Unfortunately, we had a couple. That’s just part of the sport. We came out here, competed at our highest level and gave it our best effort. The cards fell where they fell.”
The Falcons settled for second in the alpine competition behind Fort Kent.
“I didn’t really want another second-place plaque,” Fournier said. “We had one last year, too, but you know what? Add that to the case.”
Woods, meanwhile, atoned for his first run with the second-best run of the second session, finishing in 39.52.
“After that first one, I had nothing to lose,” Woods said. “I knew that, no matter how I skied, I couldn’t get much worse, so I figured I’d go all out. I had a nice run.”
Woods also completed a championship Wednesday, earning the title of Class C skimeister with the best point total from all four disciplines, two each in nordic and alpine. His 50 points were 70 better than Chris Collins of Freeport.
“That’s two times now in my high school career. I’m pretty excited,” Woods said.
“There aren’t many kids in the state who can compete at that level in all four events, A, B or C,” Fournier said.
Fort Kent, meanwhile, shot past fellow contender John Bapst, placing four skiers in the top 13 to claim not only the slalom team title and the alpine team title, but the overall Class C championship as well, besting Freeport by 49 points over four events.
Telstar placed third with 360 combined points.
Class C girls
As freshmen alpine skiers go, Sarah Klein of Mountain Valley is pretty typical.
“She has a lot of natural speed,” Fournier said. “The question is usually, ‘Is she going to stand up for two runs?'”
Klein answered that question and then some Wednesday. Not only did the Falcons’ freshman stand for two runs, she did so in grand fashion, popping off two of the fastest six runs of the day to place second overall in the Class C slalom event at Mt. Abram.
“don’t think about falling when I’m racing, I just think about the racing,” Klein said. “Going through the gates as fast as I can.”
Klein didn’t let the first-year jitters hit her — too hard.
“Before the race, I was nervous, but know how I did now, I’m actually very surprised,” Klein said.
Klein said having gone through Tuesday’s giant slalom race first on Tuesday helped her be ready mentally for the slalom race on Wednesday.
The only skier to beat Klein on Wednesday was Freeport’s Elly Bengtsson, who followed up a win in Tuesday’s GS with a resounding win in the slalom, besting Klein by more than seven seconds over two runs. Bengtsson’s time and the Falcons’ superior depth helped them capture another Class C alpine title on Wednesday, and lifted the ski team to a Class C overall championship.
“Our goal was definitely to ski as a team, not just go for the individual win,” Freeport coach Eric Wallace said.
Freeport trailed Fort Kent by two points after three events, but like they did Tuesday in the GS, the Falcons flew away from everyone on Wednesday, earning 25 points for a four-event total of 153. The Warriors’ 35 points Wednesday ran their total to 161.
Fort Kent had won the previous three Class C state titles, with Freeport having taken three of four prior to that. The two schools have combined to win each of the past eight, dating back to 2005. Prior to that, Madawaska had won five in a row.
Taylor Enrico joined Bengtsson on the podium with a third-place finish. Teammates Sarah Pier and Wynne Cushing placed 10th and 11th to complete the Falcons’ scoring.
Fort Kent gave it a go. Alexa Pelletier finished in fourth and Danielle Oulette in sixth for the Warriors, but the rest of the pack placed just outside of Freeport’s third and fourth skiers. Fort Kent skiers occupied the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th positions.
Mountain Valley placed third in the alpine championship race with 121½ points over two days, and also third in the overall Class C competition with 496½ points.
“I think we did as well as we could have hoped to,” Fournier said. “They skied well, they attacked the course, they didn’t get too intimidated by it. And we have only four girls, so we don’t have much depth. But I think they skied as well as they have all season.”
Roxanne Pelletier of Fort Kent was the girls’ skimeister, putting up 33 total points in the four events.