Emma Charles of Mount Blue High School tucks into the stadium during the Class A state championship freestyle pursuit race at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington in Tuesday. Charles, a sophomore, claimed the 2020 Class A freestyle, classic and pursuit state titles. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Mt. Blue sophomore Emma Charles is still coming out of a haze of astonishment after winning a pair of Class A state individual championships at Titcomb Mountain in February.

Charles’ No. 1 finishes in the classical (16:42.2), freestyle (16:07.9) and pursuit also helped steer the Cougars to a Nordic state Class A team championship title and earn her recognition as the Sun-Journal’s All-Region Most Valuable Nordic Skier.

To keep busy during the COVID-19 outbreak, Charles has spent a few hours at Titcomb Mountain, which remains closed, to race around the empty Noridc trails to ward off boredom.

“Last year, I would have never guessed everything that’s happened would happen,” Charles said. 

Charles was competing in the junior nationals in California two weeks ago, where she completed two of the four events when the coronavirus outbreak became serious.

“It was really quite a disappointment,” she said.”Because of the Coronavirus, we had to go home a couple of days early. A lot people were pretty upset about it.”

Charles credits additional summer training and proper nutrition that helped give her the edge this season.

“It was probably a huge part of it,” Charles said. 

But she said it was a total team effort that put the Cougars on top.

Emma Charles of Mount Blue High School raises her arms after winning the Class A Nordic classical state championship at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington in February. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover Buy this Photo

“I think our top-five girls are sophomores and freshmen,” she explained. “For some reason, that freshman class is just the craziest athletes.

“I think a huge part of it was the freshmen coming up and having a strong athletic way to them. I think another part of it is we have like a really good bond, like we are all like a family…which is true.”

Charles is still trying to figure out where this past season went.

“It was awesome,” she said. “It went by so much faster than last year.”

CHANGING HANDS

Charles misses former Mt. Blue girls’ Nordic coach Claire Polfus, who left last season, but she welcomed Emmy Held and her knowledge of the sport.

“We connected pretty quick in the first month,” Charles said. “I knew the assistant coach — Shelley Joyce. We got a good replacement, which is really good.”

“She is a really focused, goal-oriented kid,” Held said. “She is a little bit quiet when you don’t know her so it maybe took us a little bit of time to figure out how I can support her best.

“We developed a really great rapport. She works really hard and she is excited every day to get out on the snow to keep accomplishing things and keep moving forward. It easy to work with a motivated kid.”

Held pointed out Charles’s grit and determination that made the Nordic skier a menace on the course.

“She loves to be challenged she is always working to improve,” Held said. “She is working on many different technical aspects but also her mental game with racing and strategy.”

“Even if she is not having her best day, she has the willpower to get through. Nordic skiing is a sport that takes a lot of grit.”

Emma Charles of Mt. Blue looks down the course as she heads toward the finish line on her way to a first-place finish at the Roy Varney Hornet Classic at Leavitt Area High School in Turner in January. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Held also applauds Charles’ discipline and time-management skills and for having a good handle on academics.

“She kind of sets the tone of working hard but also enjoying it,” Held said. “She is also there at practice smiling and excited about the snow and having fun with her friends.

“So I think she shares the love of the sport well, keeping it fun, and at the same time, motivating others to work hard. She can be pretty inspirational in that way. She is very humble and doesn’t take herself seriously. She just wants to be out there and be a part of the team.”


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