Jordan Cummings, Gianna Boulet, Courtney Larson and Miranda Chadbourne of the Edward Little girls Alpine team warm up for practice by doing stair drills in a hallway of the high school. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — The Edward Little girls alpine skiing team knows there is a target on its back heading into the 2019-20 season.

The Red Eddies are the defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Class A state champions.

“I certainly do think we have a target on our back,” senior Miranda Chadbourne said. “I have been talking to some of my friends on other teams who have been talking about wanting to beat us. I think, honestly, that makes me want work hard to be better because I want to beat them and say, ‘You tried, but you can’t beat us.’

“Us having a target on our back makes us a stronger team.”

Taking it one step at a time, the Red Eddies’ confidence has been building the past couple years.

“Two years ago, I don’t they believed they could win,” EL coach Jodd Bowles said. “Last year, they believed they could win. This year they know they are winners.”

The Edward Little girls return five skiers from a season ago. Chadbourne, who was 76th in the slalom race and finished 12th in the giant slalom at the state championship; senior Jordan Cummings (20th slalom, eighth GS); junior Courtney Larson (11th slalom, 14th GS); as well as junior Rebecca Bassett and sophomore Gianna Boulet.

Lost to graduation are three who competed in the state championships: Sarah Lachance (ninth slalom, 32nd GS), Mallory Ouellette (54th slalom, 56th GS) and Annabelle Soucie (90th in SL, 60th GS).

With a small group this year, the team has been growing closer.

“Our team chemistry has improved a lot more over the past few years,” Cummings said. “I think that has helped us win and we are all just working really hard because we want (to win) again. (We) are coming together, doing more team activities … and creating our own type of chemistry.”

Bowles said the team has had some rough patches in the past few years, but he has liked how skiers have stuck it out.

With only five skiers, the margin for error is slimmer compared to past seasons since a team’s top four finishers out (of the six) count toward its score. Bowles, while a little concerned with the lack of numbers, likes the Eddies’ chances with this group skiers.

“As a coach, you’d like to have people coming up so you can keep the program going,” Bowles said. “But I will take these five girls over six or eight that aren’t serious about (skiing) every day. We’ve got quality, from our number one to our number five (skier). I am really pleased with that; it takes four and they have one buffer. It would be a little less pressure on them if we had six right now, but we don’t.”

On the way to the state championship, the Red Eddies learned some valuable lessons such as finishing their runs when conditions might not be the best as the slalom runs were in rain and sleet during the state championship meet.

“We were all focused on finishing our runs and not (skiing) necessarily the hardest that we possibly can, but enough to the point that we can seal that win,” Cummings said.

Other teams had their top skiers fall on their runs, which helped the Red Eddies take the Class A crown, defeating Fryeburg Academy by seven points.

Another thing the girls learned from last year’s success was that a season builds to the conference and state meets.

“It’s kind of treating the (regular season) races throughout the year until (the championship meets) like practice,” Chadbourne said. “Like practice with higher stakes and treating those (races) like practice, we can prepare better for KVACs and states.”

Bowles encourages his skiers to try something new in the regular season so skiers can improve their skills for the championship meets. Bowles isn’t concerned if the racers win a regular season meet. If they do, great, but if not, he wants to make sure skiers can come out with the confidence that will make them a better skier in February.

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