Roy Varney, from Leavitt, powers up the first major hill of the Sassi Memorial 5K classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

RUMFORD — Nordic skiers trying to find out where they stack up against the state’s best got a pretty good indicator Saturday when many of the state’s teams congregated at Black Mountain in Rumford for the Sassi 5K classical race.

Leavitt’s Roy Varney found out he’s in a pretty good spot. Varney raced the 5-kilometer course in 13:36.2, 13.6 seconds faster than second-place Carter McPhedran of Maranacook.

“I feel fast and I think I did pretty good,” Varney said before the final results were announced. “This race is kind of an identification race, I want to see where everybody else is at and want to see where I am classic-wise, so I can know how to go forward.”

The course ran fast Saturday. It was packed down and some racers said that thin layers of ice helped speed the times up.

McPhedran finished runner-up Saturday but was happy with how his race went. Maranacook had coaches throughout the course to help its skiers through the race, which was helpful for McPhedran, who was the 57th skier to go off in the boys’ race.

“We had some coaches out there giving us splits, so that was really useful to keep your head in the game in a race like this with such a big field. The snow was pretty fast and there was some give and take of skiing in the track and skiing out of the track just in terms of which side was faster.

“I always say this is the biggest race of the year because the field is so big that there’s only a couple other races that rival it.”

Maranacook’s Gabe Fein finished in third place with a time of 13:54.8. In fourth was Ethan Livingood of Falmouth with a time of 14:00. Livingood attributed his fast finish in part to the conditions of Black Mountain.

“The track was really good and there was a thin layer of ice over the top, which made it really fast,” Livingood said. “The track stayed firm which was really nice so the kick wasn’t a real issue.”

Mt. Blue’s Sam Smith finished fifth, followed by teammates Dom Giampietro in sixth and Jesse Dalton in eighth.

“This is one of our bigger races before KVACs and states, so this is like a testing race, almost, because it’s one of the biggest races of the year size-wise, so it kind of gives you a feel of what states is like, which is good to prepare,” Smith said.

Two girls who know exactly where they stand in the state after Saturday afternoon’s race are Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles and St. Dom’s Emily Gerencer, who finished first and second.

Charles skied to a time of 15:27, which was 3.3 seconds faster than Gerencer. Charles, a freshman, had raced at Black Mountain before in the Jr. Sassi races, but was a bit nervous Saturday due to the number of competitors.

“It definitely gives me a better feel how it is to race against so many people,” Charles said. “We’ve had like 70 people, not 100-something. It’s a little intimidating at first, but it’s all schools we’ve competed against before so it’s nothing too new.”

Charles, despite her lightning-fast time, still thinks she can improve. Though the course was fast, the downhills that Black Mountain brings provided a challenge.

“I’m kind of scared on downhills and I’ve heard they are really key here to getting a good start on the uphills so I really tried to stay on the tracks and tuck the whole way, and I did good,” Charles said.

Gerencer was hoping for a high finish.

“I think it went pretty well,” Gerencer said. “I felt strong and it went by quick. I wanted to get top-five and on the podium, if I could.”

The St. Dom’s senior finished 58 seconds-faster than third-place Lily Horne of Freeport, followed by Lilo Bean of Gould Academy and Grace Tumavicus of Portland to round the top five.

Falmouth’s Eva Clement was the first to go out onto the course for the girls and finished in eighth place in 16:45.9. Although starting presents a challenge of knowing everyone behind her was gunning for her spot, Clement was happy with how she handled the race.

“I started first and so I wanted to keep that and not let anyone pass me,” Clement said “I think the conditions are pretty steady, so I don’t think it made a difference. It may have made a difference mentally. It feels pretty good, I felt good so I think with more and more practice I’ll be good.”

Carter McPhedran of Maranacook, left passes Mick Gurney from Mt Blue at the Sassi Memorial 5K classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Ethan Livingood skis up the first big hill at the Sassi Memorial 5K classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Sam Smith double poles down the first hill at the Sassi Memorial 5K classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford on Saturday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)


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