Mt. Blue senior Emma Charles tucks during the freestyle race at the Class A state championships at Black Mountain in February. Charles placed first in the classical, freestyle and freestyle pursuit in each state championship she competed in during her high school career. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Mt. Blue Nordic ski coach Emmy Held said Emma Charles served as a role model to all underclassmen who had the privilege of skiing with the talented senior.

Mt. Blue Nordic ski team co-captain Emma Charles at Titcomb Mountain before a practice in December 2021. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“A lot of these kids have been training with her for years and been looking up to her for a long time, and I think she has passed on a lot of things — and that will show in the years to come,” Held said.

That will be the legacy of Charles’ Mt Blue career, during which she swept the individual state titles every year she competed and helped the Cougars claim two Class A state crowns, this season and her sophomore year in 2020.

And, for the fourth time in four years, Charles has been selected as the Sun Journal’s All-Region Girls Nordic Skier of the Year.

“I would like to thank my coaches, my parents and teammates and friends and everyone involved in my skiing and for helping me love it and reach my goals,” Charles said.

Held said she will miss the entire class of seniors who made large contributions to the Cougars’ success.

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Charles took first place in the classical (18:40.3) and the freestyle (12:56.5) and freestyle pursuit (31:36.5) at the state championships in February at Black Mountain. She also won all three events her freshman and sophomore years — there were no state championships last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She is just such a unique athlete in the kind of the determination she brings to practice,” Held said. “I am going to miss someone actually bugging me saying, ‘Can we do triples today,’ which is one of our hardest workouts. 

“She is always happy to be (at practice), having a lot of fun with her friends, a strong leader and how she models things. I guess I am just going to miss that presence …”

Charles also was the KVAC champion this season.

Held has a tough time pinpointing what gave Charles the edge during her senior season “because she has been dominant for so long.”

“But what I am proud of is she continued to improve her techniques and strategy and mental toughness,” Held said. “I think those are all things that improved her skiing across the board.”

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“She was doing the Eastern Cups all over New England, and she went to a nationals race in December out in Utah, and she qualified for the New England Junior National Team and went to Minnesota. She did really well there. She was 12th in her age group.” 

Charles will be skiing for the University of New Hampshire next winter and will study wildlife biology and conservation.

Held is glad Charles will be close to home, which will give the coach an opportunity to watch Charles compete for the Wildcats.

“I am really excited for her to get to that next level of competition,” Held said. “I also think she is ready for the responsibility of college, to branch out from home, be in another place, try new things, meet other people. I think that would be good for her.”

Charles also is looking forward to a bright future at UNH.

“I am excited like to move on to college skiing and bigger and better things, but I will definitely miss my teammates and friends around the state,” Charles said. “(My season) didn’t feel terribly different. Just having so many races and being so busy you don’t have time to stop and think, ‘Wow, my last season.’

“I raced on a Black Mountain course in my first race ever in the fourth grade and my last race was also at a Black Mountain, which is kind of cool, you know. But, like I said, I have plenty of racing left in my career.”

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