While we try to hit the right wax for warmer temperatures (cold snow wax worked fine this past week), skiers and snowboarders are competing at various levels.

Maine colleges are competing in a new collegiate division. Named for former Maine-Farmington coach Tom Reynolds, the Reynolds Division includes UMF, Maine, Maine-Fort Kent, Maine-Presque Isle and the Bates B team (the A team is competes in NCAA Div. I).

We don’t have a list of the skiers on these teams or all the details, but we do know that the Alpine teams had 12 slaloms and giant slaloms at mountains from Sunday River and Sugarloaf to Aroostook County. The big news for Maine’s junior racers in high school is that they will have more options to pursue competitive skiing in Maine.

Our junior racing programs produce a lot of skiers, but only a few will make the U.S. Ski Team or get to compete at a Division I college. The Reynolds Division will increase those opportunities.

We also received word this week from CVA that four of the school’s skiers are at the Junior Nationals, which got underway Tuesday at Mount Bachelor, Ore. The skiers who qualified at FIS races are Makayla Brown of Naples, Kristin Waddle of Carrabassett Valley, Katie Houser of Marblehead, Mass., and Dominque Cyr of Van Buren. They are competing against the top 15-16 year old Alpine racers in the country.

Also at the Junior Nationals is Jeffery Lathrop from Denmark, a senior at Gould Academy. Lathrop excelled in Eastern J II slalom this year to earn his trip.

Another CVA athlete was competing this week in her first World Cup event. Heather Doolittle of Belgrade competed in a World Cup Snowboardcross event at Lake Placid and finished 28th Friday. Doolittle earned the big start with solid results in snowboard competition in the US Snowboard Association’s Chevrolet Revolution Tour and Grand Prix events. She is currently ranked 3rd in points for the Junior Worlds.

Next Wednesday Falmouth’s Kristen Sweeney will join CVA schoolmate Jeremy Cota at the FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships in Airolo, Switzerland. The pair will be competing in mogul competition against the best 15-19 year olds from around the world.

Winding up today are the World Junior Alpine Championships in Germany where Auburn’s Bump Heldman, another Gould senior has been competing. Heldman placed 50th in the downhill, but was disqualified in the giant slalom and did not finish his first run in the slalom.

Heldman is another young skier who may have to decide whether to compete with the U.S. Ski Team or attend college. He has been accepted at Bates, where he will certainly be on its ski team. Heldman will be at the Nationals in Alaska, and a strong showing against the top U.S. skiers could earn him an invitation to join the team.

These are just some of the Maine kids who are involved in championship skiing or snowboarding this month.

There are less than two weeks left to raise pledges for the Skiathon at Sunday River. This annual benefit event for Maine Handicapped skiing is one of the biggest fund raisers in skiing. Last year, the event raised $330,000, which was 65 percent of the organization’s annual budget. Celebrating its 25th year, Maine Handicapped skiing has helped hundreds of individuals join in a sport where gravity helps them overcome their handicap.

It costs a minimum $600 per team, but the idea is to get others to pledge so much a run or vertical foot so the team total can exceed the $600. Teams will raise thousands as they try to ski as many runs as possible Saturday, March 24. I had the good fortune of being on the winning team in the first Skiathon and won a trip to Vail for two.

There are great prizes and a number of gifts just for entering. For details on this and other events that support this organization, check skimhs.com. It’s a lot of fun, and you get to cut lift lines all day long.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.


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