TURNER — Hannah Allen crossed the finish line Saturday at Leavitt Area High School and immediately crashed to her knees.

Gripped by a debilitating back spasm, Allen fought to catch her breath, red face clashing with her blue-and-gold Mt. Blue uniform.

“Painful,” Allen said. “We worked on technique things last year for that, but I think I might have forgotten them.”

In a normal season, Allen is among the fastest, fittest female skiers in the state. Ailing or not, Allen still finished fourth in the Hornet Classic.

With 50-degree days during Christmas vacation and green and brown patches dominating the landscape even in the Franklin County foothills until four days ago, the first half of the 2010-11 high school season has been a life less ordinary.

In some respects, that’s nothing new. Leavitt hadn’t been able to host its traditional mid-January event on school grounds for three years.

Three hundred skiers came rejoicing to the trails surrounding Libby Field. Freshly powdered by Wednesday’s blizzard, the terrain offered teams in the southwest quadrant of the state their first major carnival of the campaign.

That debut is two or three weeks later than usual, thanks to a late-arriving winter. Small meets, time trials and cross-training activities have been the rule.

“We train at Lost Valley, and there just hasn’t been enough snow to get good training,” said Zachary Tannenbaum of Edward Little, who was 25th out of 159 skiers in the boys’ race. “There was like a 50-by-50 meter area where there was enough snow, so we kept skiing on that.”

Finally there are real times and tangible results as a measuring stick to help skiers prepare for state competition, now only a month away.

Yarmouth swept the team competition. The Clippers (46) edged rival North Yarmouth Academy (48) in the boys’ meet.

On the girls’ side, overall winner Becca Bell led four Yarmouth skiers in the top eight to headline an 18-51 victory over Mt. Blue.

Bell was Allen’s bellwether throughout the three-mile route. Allen started 30 seconds ahead of Bell in the staggered start.

She held off her southern competitor until the final few meters, when the back began throbbing. Allen’s courageous push in the closing straightaway brought the two skiers across the wire almost side-by-side.

“It was a gorgeous day, excellent conditions, and it definitely was nice to have a good competitor push me,” Allen said.

Allen completed the course in 18 minutes, 56.1 seconds.

For Bell (18:19.2), the closest competition ultimately was Abby Mace of Maranacook (18:21.0).

Mace is perhaps best known throughout the state for her prowess as a distance runner in cross country and track. The relatively flat Leavitt layout probably wasn’t best suited to the Maranacook racer’s tireless endurance level.

“I just prefer hillier courses, because the hills are my strong point,” Mace said. “It was pretty good. I’m not a strong double-poler.”

The new-fallen snow hasn’t had ample time to freeze at the surface yet. Skiers found that their ski poles were sinking about an inch deep into the snow.

That creates a different type of endurance issue, with more arm action required to propel the body forward.

Mace said Maranacook was dealt a better hand by Mother Nature than some schools.

“I was surprised that when other people didn’t have snow, we had a little bit,” she said. “We had a small loop to ski. But we did end up having to run (to stay in shape).”

Emily Ramsey (seventh, 19:38.7), Sarah Wade (16th, 21:12.9) and Emily Roberts (24th, 22:01.1) joined Allen as scorers for Mt. Blue.

Ninth-place Audrey Bennett of EL was the only other tri-county girls’ skier in the top 10.

Bennett and teammate Emily Ranucci started back-to-back and stayed in tandem throughout most of the race. Ranucci wound up 13th.

Edward Little didn’t christen its season until Thursday’s meet at Black Mountain.

“Getting that extra snow helped so much,” Bennett said. “We’re finally getting a chance to work on our technique and on hills. There were a lot more girls here today, so that can only help us.”

Maddie Wiegman (11th) and Taren McGray (14th) led the host Hornets.

Tyler DeAngelis of Maranacook dominated the boys’ race. His time of 15:07.6 beat Greely’s Connor Regan by 20 seconds.

Brody Hines, a top-10 finisher in both Nordic disciplines at last year’s Class A championship, was third for Mt. Blue.

“It’s crazy to think our season is just starting and it’s basically half-over,” Hines said. “We’ve had one sprint race and one time trial with Maranacook and that’s been it.”

Seventh-place Adam Mahar of Telstar echoed the sentiments of those who equated the sight of a smooth blanket of snow with heaven.

“This is so much better than anything we’ve had,” Mahar said. “We’re not running on dirt.”

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