As it does every year, the high school ski season gets a later start than fellow winter sports, like basketball, hockey, wrestling or indoor track.

There’s good reason for this, as it’s usually difficult to run a ski meet without snow. A meet or two may be scheduled before Christmas break, but traditionally, the season doesn’t really get moving until January.

Despite the wait, coaches try to make the most of the weeks leading into the regular season. One particular coach who is taking advantage of the time is Emmy Held, who was recently hired as the new Nordic coach for Mt. Blue. Held — a former Colby College skier — is quickly getting acclimated to her new team.

“It’s been really great,” Held said. “We have a pretty big team this year…We’re all settling in pretty well. It’s been a little hairy here and there about having enough snow or not. But we’ve only had to run maybe three or four times. That’s pretty good, we’ve been out on snow a lot at Titcomb (Mountain). Feeling pretty lucky about that, but we’ve got an incredible group of kids.”

It helps that Held has a strong group of returners, both for the girls and boys teams. Both Nordic teams finished second in Class A last season, and have several key returners. The boys are led by senior captains Evan Hornbach and Clayton McCarthy, while the girls are led by seniors Kahryn Cullenberg and Molly Harmon, along with sophomore Emma Charles.

“It’s super helpful to come in and have a lot of kids who already know what they want, and a good culture,” Held said. “We have four awesome captains, who right from the start have been working with me. ‘Hey, we have these traditions,’ or ‘Hey, this is what we’re really excited to continue,’ things like that, which is really nice.”

The Maranacook Nordic team has spent much of its early season doing dry land training — doing various workouts that help simulate and prepare skiers for how grueling a Nordic race can be — but coach Steve DeAngelis said the team is ready for the season, and rightly so. The boys finished last season as Class B champions, while the girls finished fourth in Class B.

“We’ve only skied twice,” DeAngelis said. “We have more of a cross-country run team right now, with a little body strength thrown in (for workouts). It is what it is. It’s definitely a challenge … (The skiers) are definitely  tired of not being able to ski. We skied once here, then it rained, then we went up once this week to Quarry Road, because they’re making snow up there.”

The Maranacook alpine team has had slightly more success getting real training in during the preseason. But the Black Bears don’t have a regular season meet until Jan. 7 at Hermon Mountain.

“The kids have been working hard,” Maranacook alpine coach Ronn Gifford said. “We did get up to Sugarloaf and ski the first Saturday of December. We were going to go up the second weekend when it rained. We’ve only been on the snow as a team one day. Kents Hill is about to open shortly … We’re planning four or five days over (Christmas) break to get on the hill over there.

“(The skiers) are kind of used to it,” Gifford said. “But certainly this week, in particular, every day they were like ‘So, we’re going to get up on Kents Hill on Wednesday? Not on Wednesday? How about Thursday? Not Thursday? How about Friday?’ They definitely are getting itchy. Dry land (training) is great, it’s great strengthening, but it gets old. It’s mostly indoors, so they get itchy to get outside in the winter and enjoy the snow and get skiing. They’re definitely at the state to let it loose.”

Maranacook will be in the thick of the state championship race when the season begins, particularly in girls Alpine, as the Black Bears are the defending Class B champions.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer


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