Finding high school ski competition schedules isn’t easy, but the season is up and running.

By going to the Maine Principals’ Association website I was able to find the dates and locations of the state championships, but unlike team sports there is no list of regular meets. For those, you will have to check with your local school, or you could call your local ski area to see if they are hosting any racing.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

The Class A Alpine state championships are scheduled for Black Mountain in Rumford on Feb. 17 and 18. Those same days, the Class B Alpine championships will be at Saddleback.

The Class A, B and C Nordic state championships are at Black Mountain on Feb. 23 and 24.

Without listings for competitions, it’s not easy to support high school skiing. Team sports taking place in stadiums and gymnasiums are easy. Just go to the gym and cheer on your team.

Skiing isn’t as easy. Not only do events take place outside, but often getting to the finish requires some hiking.

There are a few places where Alpine race finishes are near the base lodge and some where you can actually watch a good part of the race from inside. This is true for races run on Bull Moose under the chair at Lost Valley. Also, Mt Abram has racing on Boris which can be seen from the bottom.

Cross country races usually finish near the lodge, so it doesn’t take a lot of hiking to see the finish, but it does require warm dress.

HIGH PRICE

Of course, skiing requires equipment typically furnished by the competitor, and as every parent who ever outfitted a skier for competition knows, this can be expensive. All the pads on a football player or a hockey player are furnished by the school and can run hundreds of dollars per player.

I have to admit that I am not as up on equipment costs for Nordic as I am for Alpine. I know that a top of the line race boot for GS and slalom can run up to $800, and to be truly competitive a skier needs skis for both events, which with bindings can exceed $1,000 each.

Fortunately, Leon Akers helped out with Nordic pricing by sending this year’s catalog. Unfortunately, the 2021-2022 winter catalog will be Akers’ last.

After 62 years, this shop in Andover, Maine, which has supplied a full line of cross country equipment for skiers, teams and schools all over the country, will no longer supply a printed catalog. The costs of printing and mailing have risen to the point where it makes more sense to post everything online. Akers’ store is still open and carries a full line of Nordic equipment, and they will be mailing occasional flyers to those on their mailing list. Everything can be found at www.akers-ski.com.

Obviously, we can’t replicate an entire catalog in this space, but from perusing the catalog it’s apparent that outfitting a Nordic skier is less expensive than Alpine.

Traditional XC skiers will notice the difference in boots. Instead of outfitting for the classic, straight-ahead style of XC competition, skating has added another dimension. The softer boots used for the classic, straight-ahead stride are still fine for classic competition, but skating requires a boot with lateral stiffness.

There are a number of packages that include a Combi boot. These have a removable cuff that provides the necessary stiffness for skating but can be removed for classic striding. This added technique has made XC boots more complex, but they are sill far simpler than an Alpine race boot.

The point of all this is that high school skiers train as hard as any athletes and buy their own equipment, and for the most part, they compete with no one watching except a few coaches and teammates.

For a few years, when Mt. Abram reserved Friday nights for high school racing and turned on the lights, we could count on a bunch of parents to be on hand. They would gather around the finish area and cheer as their children and teammates finished.

It was an ideal setup. The entire course was visible from the base area, and it was only a short walk to get inside and warm up. With most high school racing taking place during the day midweek, it’s difficult for parents to be spectators at times when most are working.

To see if there might be a source of information on high school racing, I talked with former Edward Little coach Dick Osgood and learned that there is a website. I will be looking into www.mainehighschoolskiing.com to learn more about the regular schedule of meets, but all I can offer at this point is the name of the site.

Osgood related how the school used to furnish Nordic skis for the kids, but given the changes in the sport it would be very expensive today. Just as the Alpine racer has to have both GS and slalom skis, the cross country racer would need skis for both classic and skate competition.

Mostly my research has told me that I need to do a lot more. High school skiing in Maine is busy with a bunch of schools and a lot of kids. They would like nothing better than to see crowds of spectators at every race. Go to the website and find out where and when your school will be racing.

It could make your ski season a lot more interesting. You might even see me at a race or two.

See you on the slopes.

 

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist who hails from Westbrook. He has been contributing to the Sun Journal for many years and is among the most respected ski writers in the Northeast. He also is a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Write to him at [email protected]

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.