Mt. Blue Nordic ski team co-captains Brynne Robbins, left, and Emma Charles make their way down a lightly snow-covered field last Thursday during a team practice at Titcomb Mountain. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The legacies of Emma Charles and Brynne Robbins have already been embraced by Mt. Blue’s underclassmen.

The senior co-captains have been calling the shots for the Cougars’ Nordic ski team for the past two years — and their excellence in the sport has instilled confidence and tenacity in their teammates. The pair also share the goals of copping a state title, attending a reputable university and the desire to continue skiing at the collegiate level as they get ready for their last hurrah at Mt  Blue.

Mt. Blue Nordic ski team co-captains Emma Charles, left, and Brynne Robbins before a team practice at Titcomb Mountain last week. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“They are both so dedicated to the sport and to the team — and it all works well, I guess,” Mt. Blue coach Emmy Held said. “There is more competition within my team … because I have my top eight girls who are easily top 20 in the state. It is challenging, but they do a really good job of keeping it all very kind and encouraging each other and pushing each other constantly — and that is my goal, as well.”

Charles agrees that Mt. Blue’s underclassmen are a talented group that is strengthened by friendship and camaraderie.

“Oh, my gosh, yeah,” Charles said. “So many underclassmen, (and) they are all like strange, just crazy. It will definitely be exciting to see what they will do in a few years — even this year.”

Charles won Class A state titles her freshman and sophomore seasons — in fact, she finished first in the freestyle and classical races at both state championships. She said will continue to do what she has always been doing to be successful on the slopes.

“I think one thing I could be better about is probably giving myself time to recover, like stretching and getting enough sleep,” she said. “I do pretty well in the sleep department …”

Mt. Blue Nordic ski team co-captain Emma Charles at Titcomb Mountain before a practice last week. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Charles, who has been named the Sun Journal’s All-Region Girls Nordic Skier of the Year three times, has chosen a college but can’t make an official announcement, yet.

“I do have a college lined up, which is super nice,” she said. “All of the people around me are like, ‘Oh, I don’t know what college I want to go to.’ I am like, ‘I am all set.’”

Charles said that this season is special because not only is it last of her high school career, but Maine didn’t hold state championships last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (She did win both individual races at the KVAC championships in March.)

“Yeah, I am super excited to get more races in,” said Charles, who will step outside high school competition for a break and head west to Utah.

“You don’t have to qualify for (junior nations) but (it is) just to get an idea where I will be in the country, hoping I will make junior nationals again,” she said. “Also I just love Utah so I decided to go out there and do some touristy stuff when I am not racing.”

Robbins, who finished second in the classical and third in the freestyle at the 2020 state championships, also welcomes the new season and is looking forward to working with the entire team.

Mt. Blue Nordic ski team co-captain Brynne Robbins at Titcomb Mountain before a practice last week. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Last year was pretty different because we had COVID-19,” she said. “So my racing schedule looked pretty different compared to the year before. I ended up doing a lot of club races and races I had to sign up for on my own as opposed to skiing with my school. I am really looking forward to all these fun races that we didn’t have last year. 

“So this year I am really looking forward to being with our school team. Our whole school team, especially our girls team, is coming in really (excited) this year. I am just excited to train and race with all them because we have an incredible team.”

Robbins also is planning to compete in non-high school races this winter.

“I am going to be skiing more Eastern Cup races this year. I am definitely looking at junior nationals. I am not exactly sure what’s going to happen with that, yet, but I think it is an exciting opportunity.” 

Robbins hasn’t chosen a college, yet, and she is not sure she will remain Maine. Naturally, she wants to be back on the winner’s podium and see the Cougars collect a state title. The Mt. Blue girls won the 2020 Class A championship.

“I think we are in a good position to do that,” Robbins said. “Like I said, we have so many talented athletes this year.” 

Held said the Cougars’ co-captains get creative with their organizational skills during practices.

“They are helping me and they are coming up with ideas,” Held said. “They are always kind of setting the bar, I guess, at practice for the rest. … They are both so filled with joy for the sport.

“I think that is one of my favorite things is just to see how that is contagious with the rest of the team. It is neat that they are not just serious about their own athletics, but they are both so excited for the successes of the rest of their teammates and so excited to encourage everybody to push themselves. 

“When they leave, it will be a big hole, but it’s also starting to fill in already with the juniors and the sophomores and the freshmen that have been watching them all these years and striving to be like them — and that really matters and carries over.”

Held said Charles and Robbins are both serious athletes, but they have different styles.

“(Charles) is very disciplined as an athlete and focused on her goals,” Held said. “She is pretty unflappable. She is just excited to get out there every time. She always has a plan and she is excited to do it.

“Brynne is similar and an extremely dedicated athlete, but I think for Brynne, she has this competitive edge. She is super fun, but you see (the competitive side) in the games we play as team. She is extremely fast and quick and agile, and she is daring on the downhills in races — and you can see it in games we play as a team.”

Held said the team is grateful to be back at Titcomb and training in the snow.

“Today, we are all on a kind of high because today was our first day on snow as a team — and the two of them were just like everybody else — giggling and shrieking going down the hill and playing all the games,” Held said. “They were working super hard going up the hills. We just have a small patch of snow, but you know …

“I think they both embody the absolute joy of the sport and working really hard at pushing yourself to be your very best and also be a thing of joy. But I am excited to see where they will both go to continue skiing.”

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