TURNER — Tom Rabon’s season was nearly over much too early.

Sidelined by pneumonia, it took until the Class A state races at Black Mountain before he felt 100 percent.

But there he was, week after week, at or near the top of the standings.

“I knew I’d still be able to ski, and I even raced while I was sick, which probably wasn’t the best idea,” Rabon admitted. “I took it easy in practice, didn’t try to ski too hard. I just tried to get well as soon as I could so I could race.”

The Sassi Invitational was important for Rabon, because that’s where he qualified for the J-2 races.

“That was my first real big race after being sick,” Rabon said. “I still wasn’t 100 percent.”

He did qualify, though. And at the state meet, a full-recovered Rabon showed a glimpse of what might have been earlier in the season. For the second consecutive season, he blazed the trails at Black Mountain, improving from seventh in the freestyle and 10th in the classical as a freshman, Rabon, still just a sophomore, won both events in 2010.

“He’s so determined and he has such a strong work ethic,” Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. “During practice, not on race days, he goofs around, but still gets in a good workout, but makes it fun, but on race days, you don’t want to go near him. he’s so focused, so intense, and that makes him nearly unbeatable out on the course.”

The improvement in Rabon’s technique — and in his finishes — has been dramatic from his freshman year.

“There have been some huge improvements in his skiing,” Williamson said. “He’s shown huge improvements, he’s taken a huge step forward in the last year, to the point you can almost call him an elite skier now after winning both races at states and he’s the top J2 racer in new England. He’s a smart, strong skier.”

And he’s just a sophomore, which alone is scary as he looks toward two more years of racing for Leavitt.

Of course, with added talent and greater success, Rabon will of course be saddles with elevated expectations. As for dealing with those, so far, so good.

“Expectations, I really didn’t worry about them too much (this year),” Rabon said. “I just went as hard as I could. That’s how you have to approach it.”

For his accomplishments at a variety of levels this winter, and his ability to overcome adversity to reach his goals, Rabon is the 2010 Sun Journal boys’ Nordic skier of the year.

2010 Sun Journal Boys’ All-Region Nordic Ski Team

First team

 Dylan Chase, Leavitt

Kelton Cullenberg, Mt. Blue

Derek Drouin, Leavitt

Riley Eusden, Oxford Hills

Brody Hines, Mt. Blue

Thomas Rabon, Leavitt

 Second team

Travis Adams, Leavitt

Evan Arbour, Winthrop

Richie Brooks, Mt. Blue

Adam Mahar, Telstar

Nick Wilkins, Mt. Blue

Carl Zurhorst, Mountain Valley

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