Cam Bancroft, from Oxford Hills, powers up one of the first long uphills at the Sassi Memorial 5K at Black Mountain on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

RUMFORD — In what might have been the best skiing day of the winter so far in Maine, the 2018 Sassi Memorial went off without a hitch and with some fast performances.

The past few weeks have been filled with everything from freezing to warm temperatures, and from freezing rain to snow, which has made the Nordic skiing conditions rough for much of the state. Saturday’s race at Black Mountain was smooth and packed down, producing impressive times.

The Yarmouth girls’ and Maranacook boys’ teams the fastest times and claimed the team titles.

Sophia Laukli of Yarmouth finished the 5-kilometer Classic race in 14:25, a full minute ahead of second-place finisher Olivia Skillings of Maine Coast Waldorf. Laukli didn’t ski last season, so she was eager to test herself against the best in the state.

“I am really happy. I was gone last year so I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t raced against a lot of the girls yet this year,” Laukli said. “I was definitely really happy. I tested my skis and they were really fast, so it was a good day.”

Laukli started later than most, making her race a little more difficult, having to race on her own for the majority.

“I started pretty far back so there wasn’t many kids I could ski with, so that wasn’t ideal,” Laukli said. “The first part of the race is kind of downhill, so I just tried to make up a lot of time there and then I was pretty well-rested going up hills.”

Mt. Blue and Maranacook, having tied at KVACs last year, got to battle it out on both the boys’ and girls’ sides Saturday. Of the two teams, Meghan Charles of Mt. Blue was the highest finisher, placing fifth with a time of 16:36.3. Laura Parent, a state champion in 2017, finished eighth with a time of 16:58.1 for Maranacook.

St. Dom’s Emily Gerencer finished in 15th with a time of 17:16.3

Maine Coast Waldorf (62 points) finished a close second to Yarmouth (60 points), and Gould was third (71). Mt. Blue (110) came in fifth, Leavitt (184) was 10th and Oxford Hills (299) took 15th.

Portland’s Liam Niles won the boys’ race by three seconds (13:40.6) over Maine Coast Waldorf’s Nick Neveu. Deering’s Peter Jordan placed third.

The Maranacook boys continued their hot start on the season by having three skiers finish fifth through eighth, led by Luke Bartol, with a time of 14:06, who was recovering from the flu earlier in the week.

“I used the first downhill and didn’t go too hard in the beginning,” Bartol said. “Then at the first gradual I pushed it right up High School (Hill) and then you’re basically done from there. … I think this is good for me and my team as well. Mt. Blue’s good, it should be good for KVACs.”

Following Carter McPhedran and Mark McLaughlin of Maranacook was Oxford Hills’ Cam Bancroft, who finished in 14:27.2.

“It was a total breakthrough race for me,” Bancroft said. “Until now I have been really struggling through my races, but this one I felt really good, with the exception of High School Hill, of course. But this one went as well as it’s ever gone for me.”

Bancroft, the nephew of Olympic Nordic skier Leslie Bancroft, has sought help from his aunt and coach this season.

“She has been teaching me some secret weapons, some water workouts, stuff like that,” Bancroft said. “Just a lot of hard cardio stuff because it hasn’t been a good snow year. The difference has been doing stuff outside of practice.”

Marancook finished with 54 points. Mt. Blue (65 points) was second, and Maine Coast Waldorf (73) took third.

Locally, Leavitt (142) skied to an eight-place finish. Mt. Abram (188) was ninth, Oxford Hills (237) 12th, Edward Little (278) 13th, Telstar (307) 15th, and Dirigo (387), Spruce Mountain (395) and Mountain Valley (396) finished 19th, 20th and 21st, respectively.

While the snow at times this year in Maine has not cooperated with skiers, the conditions at Black Mountain on Saturday were lauded by all.

“I don’t know how they pulled this off because we have ice back at home, but this is like pristine conditions,” Bartol said. “It’s amazing that they were able to pull it off.”

Leavitt’s Roy Varney rounded out the top 10 of the Sassi Memorial race with a time of 14:28.

Matt Syphers, from Edward Little, skis hard at the Sassi Memorial 5k race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Ezra Flint, from Portland, powers up a hill at the Sassi Memorial 5k race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Ethan Couture, left, from Dirigo, and John Giddens from Freeport are neck in neck climbing the first big hill at the Sassi Memorial 5Krace at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Gaelan Boyle-Wight, from Telstar, skis up a hill at the Sassi Memorial 5k race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Gaelan Boyle-Wight, from Telstar, skis up a hill at the Sassi Memorial 5k race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Natalie Teare, from Yarmouth, hits the last downhill of the Sassi Memorial 5k at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Ellery MacGregor, from Leavitt, skis towards the finish line at the Sassi Memorial 5K at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Lilo Bean, from Gould Academy,  pours it on down the final stretch of the Sassi memorial 5K at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Abigayle Lavoie, from Leavitt, starts off on the Sassi Memorial 5K course at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Hyla Webster, from Leavitt,  starts her run at the Sassi memorial 5K at Black Mountain on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Roy Varney, from Leavitt, gets off to a fast start at the Sassi Memorial 5K At Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Aiden Morrison gets started with some double poling at the Sassi Memorial 5k race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)