Mt. Blue High School’s Xander Gurney competes in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference ski meet at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington in Jan. 2020. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

 

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of previews of Franklin- and Kennebec-county teams in the Sun Journal’s coverage area that have decided to play this winter.

Mt. Blue Alpine ski coach Mark Cyr said newcomers will lighten the load after the Cougars lost a few top-notch skiers this season.

“We have had an outstanding early season, really focusing on fundamentals,” Cyr said. “With everything pushed back, we can spend more time on the basics, both mechanics and tactics. We are taking it slow and making sure we get every athlete in a good place to start racing.”

On the boys side, those newcomers include Trent Beaudoin and Jackson Hardy. For the girls, keep an eye on Katie Yeaton and Abbey Goodspeed.

Top male skiers Jack Kearing, Xander Gurney, Josh Smith, Ashton Beaudoin, Sam Goodspeed are back in the fold. Sadie McDonough, Kloe Dean and Vivian Cormier return for the girls.

“The biggest obstacle/weakness Mt. Blue alpine has is the hill we train on,” Cyr said. “It is a great training facility for slalom, but lacks the vertical for a good GS hill. We are extremely fortunate to have such a venue right in town, and would never complain, but it does force us to seek out other venues for GS training. We used to train GS at Saddleback quite often on weekends, and we are looking into that again for this year.”

MARANACOOK/WINTHROP

Depth is often the key to any team’s prosperity, and the Maranacook/Winthrop girls Alpine team has it this season.

“The Class B State Champion girls team graduated a strong core of leading seniors last spring, but they also return a similarly strong group of seniors and juniors this season,” Maranacook/Winthrop coach Ronn Gifford said.  “As such, the girls should continue to be a strong team and compete well at the top of the pack. The captain leadership for the girls is outstanding and the team is deep in experience.”

On the boys side, Maranacook/Winthrop is possibly fielding five skiers, with Winthrop’s Eben Michaud expected to join the contingent.

“Lack of depth with only four skiers (possibly five) on the team will highlight the priority on consistent finishes throughout the season,” Gifford said. “The captain leadership is outstanding and these four all have tremendous skills and experience at championship meets to draw from in order to excel this season.”

MT. ABRAM ROADRUNNERS

Leah Danala, who is coaching the Alpine teams at both Mt. Abram and Spruce Mountain this year, is looking to have as much of a normal season as possible for the Roadrunners.

“It’s a really young (Mt. Abram team), so race experience could be a weakness,” she said. “These athletes are excited to have winter sports, so they are willing to make whatever accommodations needed in order for that to happen. They’ve worked hard in the gym and are now putting in the time on the hill.

“If the fall season taught us anything, it’s that the only thing we can control is how hard we can train. The likelihood to compete against other schools can be very hit or miss.”

Alice MacKay, Ian Allen, Tre Pease, Aden Richards, Sullivan Butler, Damien Thurlow, Lily Day, Nick Rush, Frank Provencher and Willow Norton will all play key roles in Mt. Abram’s success.

SPRUCE MOUNTAIN PHOENIX

This will be the first season coaching Spruce Mountain’s Alpine teams for Danala.

She knows depth is a problem despite a mix of new and experienced skiers, including Jack Gilbert, Carter Mitchell, Matt Fenlason and Hannah Coates. 

“Small numbers, so we aren’t able to score as a team,” Danala said. “I think everyone is fighting the COVID schedule and logistics. The ability to do that, make things feel normal and keep a program running is going to be our measure of success this year.”

RANGELEY LAKERS

The Rangeley girls Alpine team is hitting the slopes with a full contingent returning from last year’s banner season.

“The girls were MVC Champions the last two years and we hope to be strong again with no athletes graduating and the addition of two freshman,” Rangeley coach Jeff Hawsley, who is returning for a third season, said. “The boys have not had a full team and will not have a full team this year with only three members.

“We have had a terrific start to training with the reopening of Saddleback.”

Senior Autumn Williams and juniors Bristol Quimby, Emma Rae MacFawn and Mya Laliberte return to help give the Lakers another run at the MVC title. Rangeley, however, is still in a practice-only mode until the school board approves interscholastic competitions.

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