CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Auburn native Brooks Layman was a little late to the party. 

Unlike many top skiers who seem to be placed on skis before they know how to walk, Layman went the first nine years of his life without strapping into a pair of skis. He opted for a snowboard. 

When Layman was 10, that changed during a family outing at Lost Valley. There, he discovered his passion for skiing — with a little help from his sister. 

“My sister was beating me down Lost Valley and I said that couldn’t happen,” Layman said. “I was on a snowboard. I said I couldn’t let her do that, so I put the skis on and now I’m here.” 

Layman, 19, has been skiing for nine years and is competing in his first U.S. Alpine Championships, which just happen to be a mere two-hour drive from his hometown. In his nationals debut, Layman finished 44th in the downhill. A week later, he took 38th in the super-G.

While it’s his first time skiing at the U.S. Alpine Championships, it’s not Layman’s first time at Sugarloaf. This week marked the 11th and 12th competitive runs for Layman at the Carrabassett Valley mountain. His first appearance came on Jan. 17, 2012. His best showing was an 11th-place finish in the super-G on Jan. 29, 2014. 

“I grew up skiing with the (Carrabassett Valley Academy) Sugarloaf weekend program,” Layman said. “My buddy, Sam Morse, is here. We’ve been racing since we were 9 years old. I was watching this race growing up and it’s cool I’m finally doing it.” 

The CVA Sugarloaf weekend program runs from late November to late March each year. Its goal is to build athletes into the best skiers they can possibly be, according to the school’s website. Skiers ages 7-19 are eligible to take part. 

Before Sugarloaf, there was Lost Valley, the 45-acre, community-based ski area in Auburn, where Layman learned the skills needed to compete at the national level. 

“I grew up skiing at Lost Valley,” Layman said. “I learned how to ski there. It’s a pretty cool hill there. A lot of great ski racers have come out of there and it’s awesome to be back.” 

In high school, Layman chose Gould Academy in Bethel — the same Gould Academy that produced U.S. Alpine head coach Sasha Rearick. Sunday River became his new ski mountain as a result. 

Layman has skied Sunday River, Maine’s second-largest mountain in terms of vertical drop (2,340 feet), six times competitively. His best finish there was a 46th-place in a giant slalom event. 

Layman’s best career performance came at Okemo Mountain, Vt., on March 11, 2014, when he found himself on the podium with a third-place finish in the super-G. He came back the next day and took fourth. That performance came five months after breaking three bones in his foot while playing a pickup football game. He ended up missing the first month of the season. 

Having spent the first 18 years of his life in Maine and on the East Coast, Layman ventured west for his post-graduate and landed in Aspen, Colo., with the Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club, in 2014. Since changing time zones, Layman has skied in Wyoming, Oregon and Canada, along with regular stops across Colorado. 

Aspen’s been kind to Layman. In the mile-high air, Layman has three top-10 finishes in three of his past four competitions in his home away from home. 

Layman may no longer call Auburn home (for now), but he hasn’t forgotten where he grew up. He keeps in touch with friends and family, and tells his Colorado pals about the differences between the two states, the weather topping that list. 

Auburn has produced a few well-known skiers, Olympians Julie, Rob and Anne-Lise Parisien among them. Layman is hoping to follow in their footsteps. 

“You learn there’s a lot of greats who grew up in Auburn and you want to follow their path,” Layman said. “It’s kind of cool you’re on the same success road as they are.” 


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