CARRABASSETT VALLEY — If Sierra Leavitt stopped skiing or studying long enough to rank the months in her 21 years of life, March 2015 would be an odds-on favorite for No. 1.

Two weeks after representing Colby College with a ninth-place finish in giant slalom at the NCAA Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., good for All-American status, Leavitt found herself skiing the same event Thursday in the U.S. Alpine Championships.

At Sugarloaf, Colby’s home mountain, and just a shuttle bus ride from Carrabassett Valley Academy, where Leavitt completed her high school education.

And with World Cup living legend Lindsey Vonn forerunning the course.

While U.S. Ski Team A-listers Stacey Cook and Alice McKennis competed in the same event.

Good thing there was a stiff breeze whizzing past Leavitt’s face underneath the crystal blue skies, or she might have asked Colby teammates Mardi Haskell and Jeanne Barthold for a reassuring pinch.

“It’s really fun. I’ve been really excited, because I’ve never done nationals before,” Leavitt said.

All things considered, it was a fabulous experience. Leavitt stayed on her feet for both morning runs, something 21 of the 57 starters couldn’t accomplish.

Leavitt wound up 26th with a combined time of 2:30.97, just under nine seconds off teenager Nina O’Brien’s winning pace.

“Not too nervous,” Leavitt said of her emotional state. “I think it’s just that there’s a lot of hype surrounding it.”

Acting like she’d been before wasn’t an overwhelming task for Leavitt because, well, she has.

Leavitt grew up in Casco, competing in track and field and soccer as well as skiing in the Lake Region school system.

She transferred to CVA, the school that sends skiers and snowboarders to Ivy League and NESCAC-caliber schools when they aren’t bound for World Cup and Olympic glory.

“It allows you to ski and complete high school, all in one,” Leavitt said. “It definitely prepares you for college in terms of time management. It was such a great experience. I miss it. Maybe I’ll come back and coach someday.”

The home-course advantage manifested itself Thursday during Leavitt’s first run, which ranked 18th.

“I would say yeah, definitely there’s some advantage, because it’s a challenging course,” Leavitt said. “The start is a little higher up. That makes it so you carry a lot more speed coming into the (bottom half), so it’s different, but not too much.”

Leavitt, an English major with a minor in administrative science, was ninth in slalom in the Eastern championships as a sophomore. She was named an academic All-American.

This winter was a breakthrough season. Colby finished seventh in the NCAA meet, which combines school from all three divisions.

That was the main course for Leavitt. This week’s competition is dessert.

“Nationals aren’t a huge thing for us, because we’re in college,” Leavitt said. “It’s not like our goal, but it’s always a fun thing to get to do.”

Fun, if you don’t get caught up in watching the names on the leaderboard and wilting from the self-inflicted pressure.

Leavitt tried to take it all in stride.

“There’s a little bit (of pressure), but we race against the same caliber of people in our college races,” Leavitt said. “And we were just at NorAms at Burke (Vt.), so pretty much all the same people were there.

“It’s just another race.”

At the end of just another month. One that Leavitt won’t soon forget.

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Sun Journal coverage of the U.S. Alpine Championship includes:


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