Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles crests a hill near the finish line of the freestyle pursuit race at the KVAC Nordic skiing championships Wednesday at Titcomb Mountain. Charles won the race. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Mt. Blue’s Emma Charles said it sure didn’t hurt competing in the KVAC Nordic ski championships on her home turf.

But there was one course that she was not familiar with despite all those years of skiing at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. It didn’t matter, though, because Charles put together a pair of victories at the KVACs and earned another honor of being named the Sun Journal’s All-Region Girls Nordic Skier of the Year.

This is not the first time she has been a recipient of the Sun Journal’s recognition.

“It is pretty cool, like my freshman year, especially, interviews would always like stress me out,” she said. “I am still not super talkative now. Like before, I wouldn’t even know that to say. I am kind of more used to it now.”

She is also used to winning competitions for the Mt. Blue Cougars Nordic team no matter where skiing events are held.

“Definitely, a little bit of the home-course advantage (helped),” she said. “The funny thing is I don’t think I ever classic skied that course — like even during practice. I don’t know why, but I never did it. I wasn’t like crazy confident…”

“Emma did fantastically,” Mt. Blue Nordic ski coach Emmy Held said. “She went in calm and with confidence, and was excited to ski with her teammates. Emma hit the race course with focus, excelling on our challenging home course at Titcomb. 

“The conditions were a little tough, warm and softening, but Titcomb and our groomers did a great job, so it held up well, and Emma led her teammates in a pretty impressive performance on our long climbs and technical downhills.”

The unfamiliar course in Charles’ backyard didn’t prevent her from claiming a first-place finish in the freestyle with a winning time of 16:12.1. She also collected a win in the freestyle pursuit with a combined time of 32:41.1.

Charles said she used solid racing strategy and was also grateful the KVAC Nordic championships were switched to a two-day event.

“I am glad they did. Luckily they did. That would have not been too fun (doing both in the same day),” she said.

Charles stayed ahead of the pack in the pursuit race, which allowed her to concentrate on going forward.

“The main thing was, because there was a little bit bigger of a gap,” she explained, “I was able to ignore anything that was going on behind me and focus on the trail ahead of me, just getting in the zone without worrying about what other people were doing around me.”

Held said Charles’ dedication to off-season training makes the Mt. Blue junior a fierce competitor.

“She puts in the time, she takes care of her body, and she keeps her goals in focus,” Held said. “Emma clearly possesses immense talent, but what makes me happiest as her coach is that she does not take it for granted. 

“She’s always looking for ways to improve and to be stronger, which is a great example to set for the team. It’s also very clear that Emma is not just motivated by her success, but by her absolute love for the sport. She balances being goofy and laughing with her teammates perfectly with training hard.” 

This spring, Charles is opting to step away from outdoor track to play for the Mt. Blue tennis team. She still competes on the cross country team.

“I used to do track, but I kind of felt I needed to give my body a break,” she said. “I was really into (tennis) a few summers ago, but I kind of stopped playing and decided to get back into it.”

Skiing is important to Charles, but she has so many other interests that makes her a life-long learner.

“I’ve so enjoyed learning more and more about Emma as I coach her,” Held said. “I think some people think she’s just ski-obsessed, which might be a bit true, but Emma has so many other interests and passions that make her unique. 

“She’s a musician and a strong student. She makes a very good loon call. She’s interested in animal behavior and wildlife. She adores her older sister. She likes to ski with her dog — the list goes on. She is enthusiastic and humble, on and off the snow, and a joy to work with.”


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