Spruce Mountain’s Allison Acritelli crests a knoll at the top of the Titcomb Mountain course on her way to an MVC slalom championship win last Saturday. Acritelli and the Phoenix won the combined MVC Alpine title Tuesday. (Sun Journal File Photo)
RUMFORD — For two days, Edward Little and Mt. Blue were jockeying for the KVAC Alpine ski title, but Maxx Bell helped the Red Eddies’ cause when he fearlessly tore up the slopes at sun-drenched Black Mountain for a dazzling first-place finish in giant slalom racing.
Bell, who had a combined winning time of 1:36.37 after two runs, also had help from teammate Kyle Mooney’s (1:39.66) second-place finish and Connor Jackson (1:44.15) taking eighth place.
Impressive fourth- and fifth-place finishes by Mt. Blue’s Eli Yeaton (1:41.26) and Same Smith (1:42.78) kept the Cougars in the hunt, but that didn’t stop EL from collecting the Alpine title with combined total of 48 points. Mt. Blue, which topped the Eddies in slalom racing, finished with 55 points. Oxford Hills (103) finished third just ahead of Maranacook (161).
“We took it one run at a time and, God willing, when these results come out, we will be on top,” EL ski coach Jodd Bowles said. “Maxx laid down a great run like he has been able to do pretty consistently all year.
“Kyle, for me, stepped up the team. He’s ripped some runs. Connor is super consistent all year and then we have have got Leighton Girardin (13th, 1:46.55) who just pulled some magic out and Christian Beliveau (15th, 1:48.11) who did beautiful. Those kids and the other three on the team coming up — we are so deep with those kids.
“I mean Mt. Blue came to play. We brought it and they brought it. We were in a dogfight. That just makes it more fun.”
Bell said his second run made all the difference in his first-place performance.
“I had to focus on what I had to do the second time,” Bell said. “The difference is the course changed. I just had to put it all together. It was nice to have to runs today.”
Mooney pointed out that his second run was a little bit slower than he would have liked.
“It is a little bit wider in a few gates. Still a decent run, thought,” Mooney said. “I am thinking I am sitting in a pretty good spot.”
“They changed the course. You can take it more straight and I felt like I skied my race today,” Girardin said.
Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr handed out kudos to Yeaton’s and Smith’s gutsy performances on the demanding course.
“For the boys, Eli stepped up second run,” Cyr said. “Hunter Bolduc did a good job on both runs.
“Sam definitely did a better job on his second run because we figured out the course set was different from what we are used to. We train 27, 28 meters, and these were shot with radar during inspection and … some at 30, 32 and that is much more vertical than we are used to.
“Let me put it this way: It is an uncommon set for a high school race. Usually, you see 27, 28 meters and these were 30, 32.”
But Smith made the adjustment and that made the difference in his second run.
“Sam figured that out really well. Definitely did very well. And Eli and Hunter did a very good job,” Cyr added.
“I just pushed a little more (during the second run,” Smith said. “The snow is really fun. It is the best thing you could ask for.
There was a hodge-podge of competitors in the girls’ giant slalom competition. Camden’s Audrey Heriz-Smith won with a time of 1:42.62, with EL’s Jordan Cummings (fifth, 1:48.64) and Mt Blue’s Jenna Hanrahan (second, 1:46.99) squeezing into the top 10.
Maranacook took the KVAC girls’ Alpine title with a combined total of 67 points thanks to Janika Pakulski (fourth, 1:47.78), Katie Ide (sixth, 1:49.45) and Dana Reynolds (eighth, 1:50.65)
“I had a couple of fumbles, but luckily I held it together,” Pakulski said.
The Spruce Mountain Phoenix team had six top-10 finishes and gave them a combined 31-point victory and the MVC Alpine title. Mt. Abram followed with 61 points.
“That was awesome. This is probably the funnest course we skied all year,” Spruce Mountain’s Julia Pomeroy, who took first place with a time of 1:47.93, said. “It is nice and open and you literally let them go. “I felt like I attacked it more on this run than the first one. I felt like I was in a great position to let it go.”
And she did.
Allison Acritelli turned in an inspiring performance of determination.
She took a small spill on her second run and shook off her disappointment and still turned in a seventh-place performance with a time 2:01.44.
“I was at the top I guess I was going pretty fast and didn’t make the turn early enough,” Acritelli explained. “Luckily, I stopped right after the gate. It wasn’t too hard. After that, my legs were a little dead so, the rest of the course was a little hard.
The rest of Spruce’s top-10 finishers included: Bailey Coates (fourth, 1:51.19), Adria Plourde (fifth, 1:51.63), Madeline Timberlake (eighth, 2:01.71) and Grace Harmatys (10th, 2:09.98).
“I try to tell these kids skiing is not skiing without falling,” Spruce Mountain coach Bill Acritelli. “It is going to happen sometime and it is going to happen — better here than at states.
“It is conference. It is practice. That’s why we have skier behind her (Allison) that can pick up the slack and they do that. That’s what I love about these girls. One goes down, somebody is going to pick them up.
“We ski by family style. That what it is all about.”
The Spruce Mountain boys also snatched the conference Alpine title with a combined score of 41 points followed by Mountain Valley with 49 points.
Mountain Valley’s Curtis Gauvin took top honors with his combined winning time of 1:39.41.
McGuire Anuszewski, who won the MVC slalom championship and skis as an independent out of Winthrop, took second place with a time of 1:40.38 in giant slalom.
“The first run felt a little slower than the second,” Anuszewski said. “Time wise, they didn’t end up what I wanted them to be.
“Oh, the course is great. It held up perfectly. It is a great race surface.”
Spruce’s top-10 contingent include Gage Sampson (third, 1:45.49), Noah Gilbert (fourth, 1:53.03), Jack Gilbert (sixth, 1:55.29), Jacob Paradis (eighth, 1:56.51) and Joel Soper (10th, 2:03.43).