The illness he had been struggling with in recent days had been forgotten as he skied his way through the Nordic course at Black Mountain. When he finished the race, he was feeling even better.
“A couple of people came up to me and told me how good I did,” said Staples, a Mt. Blue sophomore. “I was just astonished.”
Staples won the freestyle race in the first day of the KVAC Championships. He finished with a time of 12:50.3. With his win and that of Lucas Bonnevie in the giant slalom, Mt. Blue took the lead after the first day of competition.
The Cougars had 92 points between the two events on the boys’ side. Oxford Hills was close behind with 93 followed by Maranacook with 112 and Leavitt with 129. In the girls, Mt. Blue also led with 77. Edward Little was second with 11o followed by Oxford Hills with 114.
The day also included the Mountain Valley Conference championship. Telstar has the lead with 84 points after the first day. Mt. Abram was second with 85 followed by Mountain Valley and Spruce Mountain with 113 and 134 respectively.
In the girls’, Mt. Abram leads with 42 points. Mountain Valley is second with 98.
The second day of competition for both conferences will be Saturday at Titcomb Mountain. That features the slalom in the morning and a Nordic classical race in the afternoon.
Staples had visited the doctor more this week than he had practiced. It had put a damper on what he thought he might do Wednesday.
“I didn’t go to practice the past two days,” said Staples. “I went to the doctor to find out what my problem was. I had sports-induced asthma. So I wasn’t having real big hopes today. I was just planning on having a good race and seeing what happens and it turned out pretty good.”
One of the features of having both conferences racing together is that it provided more racers and some extra competition. When Staples discovered he had a formidable skier out in front of him, that helped him push on. Before he knew it, he was focused on skiing and not on feeling ill.
“I had a real fast competitor out ahead me,” said Staples. “I was kind of reeling him in the whole way. I knew if I kept reeling him in, I was going to have a good race.”
Oxford Hills’ Forrest Todd was second in 13:16.7 while Mt. Blue’s Zach Veayo was third in 13:17.2. Jesse Newcomb of Oxford Hills was fourth followed by Mt. Ararat’s Sam Wood.
Staples wasn’t the only one battling an illness. Maranacook’s Abby Mace won the girls’ race but did so after shaking off the cold she’s been hampered by this week.
“I wanted to win, but I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself,” said Mace. “I’ve been sick recently. I’m still kind of recovering but am starting to feel pretty good.”
Mace won the race in 14:47. Mt. Blue’s Sarah Wade was second in 15:10.2. Leavitt took the next three spots with Maddie Wiegman in third, Taren McGray in fourth and Lucy Knowlton in fifth.
Mace says her legs felt tired after the race, but she otherwise felt good. She tried to break the race up into stages and maintain her focus.
“I raced on Saturday in the Oxford Hills Sprints,” said Mace. “I felt pretty good. So I thought today would be good, too.”
Mace’s counterpart in the MVC is Mt. Abram’s Sadie James. She was also feeling the effects of illness but still won her race in 15:34.0.
“I’m coming down with a cold, which might be strep,” said James. “So I was kind of taking it easy today. I wasn’t even sure I was going to race.”
James, a junior, discussed the possibility of not competing in the first day but couldn’t be convinced.
“I have a really hard time saying ‘No’ when it comes to racing,” she said.
Mt. Abram teammate Emma Houston was second in 16:20.0. Monmouth’s Becki Bryant was third followed by Winthrop’s Rachel Ingram. Dirigo took the next two spots with Silvia Lutick and Krystal Blood.
James planned to race easily, but it was a challenge to tame her competitive instincts.
“I was just trying to use it more like a training day, but I know I need to teach myself when to go easy and when to go hard. So I’m learning a lot this year.”
In the boys’ MVC Nordic race, Telstar’s Adam Mahar took the top spot. Only Staples bested his time on the day. Mahar finished in 12:57.6.
“I just pushed it,” said Mahar, a senior. “It was a very good day for me. I had a great race. I felt good.”
Monmouth’s Dylan Thombs was second in 13:23.0. Mountain Valley’s Nick Woods was third followed by Winthrop’s Aaron St. Pierre. Mt. Abram took the next four spots with Thomas Faraday, Trent Rosenberg, Nick Carlton and Jay Chenard finishing in order. Ben Lewis and James Piccirillo rounded out the top 10 with two more high finishes for Telstar.
“The downhills were great and the uphills, I just stayed light and tried to get a nice strong stride out and used the wax that I had,” said Mahar.
In the morning’s KVAC giant slalom, Bonnevie finished with a combined time of 1:27.68. Edward Little’s Nick Cote was second in 1:31.69. Lewiston got a fourth from Reilly Bolduc. Also in the top 10 were Leavitt’s Andrew Gaudette in sixth, EL’s Ben Bowles in ninth and Oxford Hills’ Matt Michaud in 10th.
In the KVAC girls’ giant slalom, EL’s Allarie Lever won the race in 1:32.78. Mt. Blue’s Heather Farrington was second in 1:36.07. The Cougars also had Abbey Ellis in fifth. Oxford Hills placed Victoria Ebsworth in sixth and Colleen Stauder in seventh. EL’s Hannah Johnston was also in the top 10 in eighth.
In the MVC boys’ giant slalom, Mountain Valley’s Nate Nicols won in 1:31.18. Spruce Mountain took the next two spots, with Cody Jacques and Jake Roy in second and third respectively. Telstar’s Cody Boivin was fourth followed by Nick Woods from Mountain Valley.
In the girls’ giant slalom, Mt. Abram and Mountain Valley took two of the top four spots. Mt. Abram’s Erin Luce won the race in 1:37.53. Katie Collette took second for Mountain Valley, but Elise Luce was third for the Roadrunners. Sarah Klein took fourth for the Falcons. Telstar took fifth with Rachel Wheeler.