EDITED

RUMFORD — It didn’t take long for Edward Little’s James Jackson to get riled up Wednesday.

Jackson, the first skier out of the gate in the field of 60 boys at the KVAC ski championships, had to ski off course after a coach got in his way more than halfway through the run. The delay, and ultimately the rerun, rattled the veteran skier, but only made him more determined on his second pass.

With no interference on Run 2, and with enough motivation to push him even harder, Jackson ripped off the best run of the day, blazing through the course in 39.39 seconds to capture the KVAC giant slalom crown.

“I was kind of psyched out after what happened on the first run,” Jackson admitted. “The second run, I tried to be a little bit softer on my edges. I was a little round in my first run. But I killed it; it felt really good.”

Jackson’s first-place finish also helped Edward Little post a three-point advantage in the team totals through the giant slalom portion of the overall alpine championship, 43-46 over a competitive Skowhegan squad that has been racing alongside the Red Eddies all season.

“We’ve been back and forth with (Skowhegan) all year,” EL coach Tara Eretzian said. “We’ve had some falls and some kids still working on some stuff, so to put it together (Wednesday), that was great.”

In addition to Jackson, strong second runs from Ben Bowles and Nick Cote helped EL leapfrog the Indians, who equaled EL after the first run. Cote in particular stood out, putting together a pair of runs on the same day unlike most he’d put together all season.

“I haven’t been able to do that many times this year, and it felt really good to be able to do it on a day that really mattered like this,” Cote said. “This was my kind of course. I really thrive on stuff that’s more flat, and this course is flat at the top, a nice little steep in the middle and flat at the bottom. I loved it.”

Maranacook, led by Sean and Alec Daigle, were also in the hunt, just four points back of Skowhegan in third position.

The bigger test will be on Saturday for the alpine racers, as they tackle the slalom portion of the competition at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. With the unpredictable nature of the sport — especially in the quick-turning slalom event — four points isn’t much to bank on.

But, Cote admitted, it helps.

“It gives us confidence. It definitely helps with that,” Cote said.

“This really is a brand new group of guys racing this year, and we even have two freshmen, and they’re all making a big difference,” Jackson added. “To have us do well today, after we haven’t finished well all year, for us to all stand up and be leading, that’s really good.”

In the girls’ alpine race, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Mt. Blue placed five skiers in the top 10 — including a pair of newcomers — to once again take a lead in the overall girls’ alpine race.

“They’ve been doing well this year,” Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr said, “and it was probably good that we lost a race last week to Greely, gave us a little bit of a reality check. This was good today, too. We’ll go into (Saturday’s slalom run) and hopefully spread it out a bit more.”

Not if Edward Little can help it. The Eddies, paced by Allarie Lever’s first-place finish (her first of the season), are just 12 points back of the Cougars after the giant slalom.

“It feels good, I thought we did really well today,” Lever said. “I feel like we’re stronger in slalom than in GS, and one of our top girls fell today, too, so that might have helped a little bit. I think we have a shot.”

As for the win? No one was more surprised than Lever, who thought she’d slipped from second to seventh after her second run.

“I looked at the wrong time,” Lever said. “I’m surprised that I did win.”

Black Bears, Cougars on track

What Jackson and Lever were to the alpine events on Day 1, Maranacook’s Tyler DeAngelis and Abby Mace were to the Nordic events. DeAngelis conquered Black Mountain’s 5-kilometer course in 13:55.4 on Wednesday, 27 seconds better than Ethan Burke of Hampden Academy, to win the boys’ race, and Mace blazed through the same course in 15:56.5 to capture the girls’ freestyle race for Maranacook.

On the boys’ side, that score gives the Black Bears a healthy 32-point lead over Mt. Blue in the KVAC overall standings through two of four events.

The Cougars are in their traditional top spot in the girls’ race, however. Paced by Emily Ramsey in second place, Hannah Allen in fourth, Sarah Wade in seventh and Addie Cullenberg in 15th, Mt. Blue is 18 points better than Maranacook through the first day of Nordic competition, and 37 clear of Edward Little in the overall KVAC picture.

Taren McGray led Leavitt in the freestyle event with a third-place finish, and the Hornets scored 50 points Wednesday, third best on the trials for the girls.

Forrest Todd of Oxford Hills captured third place in the boys’ race, breaking away from the rest of his teammates with a strong finish. Todd and the Vikings are in second place in the Nordic competition, 15 points back of Maranacook and one point better than Mt. Blue.

Saturday’s final day of racing at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington will feature a classical pursuit race. Skiers will start in the order they finished Wednesday, at intervals equal to those created by their finish times. Mace will begin the race nearly a full minute ahead of Ramsey, who has 16 seconds on McGray.


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