Leavitt’s Sophie Simard burns down Black Mountain during the KVAC/MVC Giant Slalom Championships in Rumford last winter. Simard, who skis for the Edward Little/Leavitt Alpine team, placed fourth at a GS competition earlier this week at Saddleback Mountain. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Mountain Valley Nordic coach Dylan Cayer has yet to watch the Falcons compete in a ski meet this season.

There are a handful of reasons — lack of natural snow, wind-swept rains and warmer temperatures — why Mountain Valley’s first three Nordic meets were canceled.

The Falcons are not alone as many area high schools are scrambling with schedule changes due to the weather.

“It has been one step forward, two steps back,” Cayer said. “For example, when we had our massive snowstorm that we had at the start of winter … I have two weeks more than I had last year, but now with all the rain and stuff, I am almost back to peg one, if that makes sense. It has been definitely hard, especially (because) the MPA requires you to have four races before you can compete in the states.

“The season is only a month and half long — and everything has been canceled so I am not quite sure what to do.”

But thanks to having Black Mountain in the Falcons’ backyard and the Herculean efforts of the Chisholm Ski Club, Nordic training has not been an issue for Mountain Valley.


“I am quite fortunate. I would say in the MVC conference I am the most fortunate,” he said. “The Chisholm Ski Club goes above and beyond to make sure that our skiers get on the course.

“Yeah, I had to have my skiers on a Saturday … volunteer, and we shoveled snow for a 3K course off the side of the hills and the mountains, but guess what, we were skiing. The Telstar Relays, which in my opinion, is one of the funnest meets in the state, got canceled. Last year, they had to move it to Gould (Academy) because (Telstar) didn’t have snow. It has just been real hard the last three years to get the meets in.” 

Another annual event, the Roy Varney Hornet Classic, has been moved from this Saturday at the Maine Outdoor Wellness Center in Turner to Quarry Road in Waterville on Monday.

Cayer said the Falcons are lucky that Black Mountain makes snow, while other schools don’t have that luxury.

“I am so fortunate the Chisholm Ski Club and Black Mountain give us so much,” he said. “We have to do the elbow work, like we’ve got to shovel snow on the trail, right, but if I shovel snow on the trails, I say, ‘Hey, can you groom it?’ They do it. We have that positive relationship.”

Dirigo Nordic coach David Buck is in the same boat as Cayer, with three of the Cougars’ first ski meets canceled.


‘The lack of snow has definitely affected our ability to participate in meets,” Buck said. “People have been good about rescheduling meets, but the short turnaround on times and venues for makeups can make planning difficult as well. Even if a meet is rescheduled for a different time and place, changing on short notice can be tough. I really hope this will be addressed and corrected, because if this continues, we’ll be scrambling to get our races in.”

Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr said that Alpine teams have also experienced scheduling headaches that came with another costly surprise.

“We have had three races postponed/canceled — two at Saddleback and one at Titcomb,” Cyr said. “Not only did Mother Nature give us troubles at Titcomb, but our compressor went down at the wrong time. By the time we got it repaired, we had missed a good stretch to make snow and the temperatures were so warm we weren’t able to make snow until two days ago.”

The Cougars, like some ski teams, have found ways to make do until the snow returns.

“We did a great deal of dry-land training this year and have been able to train on snow, but on a very flat trail,” Cyr said. “We were able to get to Saddleback for a couple of days to do some GS gate training. We had one GS race at Saddleback on Tuesday. Most of the Mt. Blue racers were rather tentative and cautious, probably due to the lack of time on a real hill.”

But some schools, such as Rangeley, have not been affected from less-than favorable weather conditions for skiers.


“This certainly has been a tough start for many teams this year,” Rangeley Alpine coach Jeff Hawksley said. “We had high school giant slalom racing at Saddleback on Tuesday, with 140 athletes and at least 10 teams attending. After speaking with the coaches, I learned that some of the kids had not been on snow yet this year and a large percentage of the athletes had not run any gates and even fewer GS gates.

“Here in Rangeley, and at Saddleback, we have had a nearly normal or even better-than-normal start to the year based on excellent snow making and an amazingly cooperative mountain management team. We did cancel one race and postpone another, but the decisions were based on predicted weather on race day, not on snow conditions.”

The Oxford Hills Vikings Nordic team has also learned to work around the lack of snow and dreaded rain.

“I personally haven’t had to reschedule any meets so far this year, but the first race in January was moved to Quarry Road,” Oxford Hills coach Chris Easton said. “The Leavitt race has been postponed till Monday and will be at Quarry Road.

“We have been fortunate in that we have been on snow for practice almost everyday. There were a couple of days last week where we had to go back to running. As of right now, Quarry Road is the only venue making enough snow for competitions.”

As far as the disappointing weather, he understands nature has the final say.


“After 42 years of coaching, I understand there is nothing I can do about the weather,” he said. “I do what I can with what is available. I go hunt for places where the snow has not melted and is skiable. We have practiced at three different places so far this year.”


Though the number of races has been small so far, those that have stayed on the schedule have brought some notable results:

• Edward Little Alpine coach Scott Berube said the lack of snow and bothersome rain has cut into the training and competition schedule, but the Red Eddies’ boys and girls teams recently won their giant slalom competitions Tuesday at Saddleback. Evan O’Donnell and Brayden Bashaw came in second and third with combined giant slalom runs of 1:26.26 and 1:26.44 respectively in that race. Sophie Simard of the Edward Little/Leavitt girls team finished fourth, Lily Anctil took eighth, Kaelyn Langlois ninth and Anaya Egge 11th. Also, Berube said, O’Donnell and Egge were nominated by teachers as Edward Little students of the month for December.

• Hawksley said the Rangeley Lakers performed at a high level at Tuesday’s KVAC/MVC giant slalom competition at Saddleback, with Breezy Quimby taking second, Amelia Stokes third, Natalie Stokes seventh and Jaxsyn Haley 22nd. The girls finished in second place.

• Senior Taylor Gordon, back at Mt. Blue after a couple of years at a ski academy, took first in the girls races at Saddleback.

• Mt. Blue Nordic girls ski team easily prevailed in the Billy Chenard Scholarship Race at Sugarloaf on Wednesday. The Cougars occupied seven of the top 10 slots and left with a team victory in the six-team competition. Mt. Blue’s Bridget Reusch (16:43.1) and Mora McCourt (16.51.7) finished first and second respectively.

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