Mt. Blue’s Bridget Reusch powers down the final stretch during the Sassi Memorial 5k Classical Race in January at Black Mountain in Rumford. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Bridget Reusch’s back pain abated, her consistency returned and she copped two stellar finishes at the Class A Nordic skiing state championships at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center in February.

She earned an overall second-place finish with a combined time of 36:49.6 to edge teammate and good friend Nora McCourt (37:00.4) after two days of competition. Reusch finished second in the 5K classic race with a time of 19:02.2 and slid into third place at 17:47.4 in the 5K freestyle race.

Reusch led the Mt. Blue girls to a dominating performance — eight Cougars were among the 15 fastest skiers in both state races — as they claimed the program’s third consecutive state title.

Her efforts on the course despite some back pain have earned Reusch the 2022-23 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Nordic Skier of the Year award.

“I am really thankful for this,” she said. “It is nice to be recognized.” 

Reusch’s success didn’t come easy — especially with a nagging injury.


“I had a good season last year, but I was talking with (Mt. Blue Nordic coach Emmy Held) about it and it was more of like a building season because of the injuries …” Reusch said. “But I really got my consistency back this year. For most of (this) season, I was very, very low on pain.”

Reusch also shined in the KVAC Nordic championships, winning the classical competition (18:29) and earning a second-place finish with her time of 14:59.9 in the freestyle. She ended up in third with an overall time at 33:28.1.

Reusch also topped her teammates in the Sassi Memorial Classic with a fifth-place performance at 17:21.9. Additionally, she raced in Eastern competitions and found it another good experience meeting other talented Nordic skiers.

Mt. Blue’s Bridget Reusch powers down the final stretch during the Sassi Memorial 5k Classical Race at Black Mountain in Rumford in January. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

She said feeling healthier certainly made the difference this past season.

“I am also, with getting over my injury, in a pretty different head space,” Reusch said. “I just tried to give it everything in every race. I also love Fort Kent. I love that course and I think it is, in some ways, like, the terrain is kind of similar to Titcomb (Mountain) — my home course. Yeah, just pushing myself into the pain cave, I guess.” 

Reusch added that all the strength training in the summer and fall really paid off for her on the slopes.


“I would say that … it really pushed me toward my personal improvement,” she said. “This summer I got to train with a lot of teammates.”

Reusch, who has been skiing since she was 3 years old, considers herself fortunate to be part of such a successful Nordic ski program at Mt. Blue. 

“I am really lucky to be on the team where a lot of people are at high level and it makes training way easier,” she said. “Not everybody gets the chance, if you are a fast skier, to ski with a lot of other fast skiers.”

Reusch also ran cross country in the fall for the Cougars and is still deciding on a college where she can study and still ski competitively.

“That’s the plan,” she said.

She admits that she will miss skiing with her teammates at Mt. Blue.


“I am gonna miss it a lot,” she said. “I was thinking at Easterns, like, ‘Oh, my God, this is my last high school race.’ It is less sad because I am hoping to continue (skiing) in college. It will be very different.”


Reusch said it was a pleasure being coached by Held the past four years.

“She is, like, so knowledgeable about the sport and she has taught me so much,” Reusch said. “She has got to be one of the best at waxing skies in New England, honestly.” 

Held said Reusch was forced to confront her injury for a couple of seasons.

“I think last year was a really tough year for her,” Held said. “We had a lot of conversations about how sometimes it is a building year and your hard work and all the effort you are putting in doesn’t always show off every single year. 


“Your time to shine will come, and it was really exciting to see for an individual that just gives it her all every day and had dealt with a lot of things for a high schooler, but it kind of all finally came together this year for her.”

Held noted that Reusch has a good sense of humor and loves skiing.

“She gives every race all of her heart,” Held said. “She tried so hard and she has a really hard time sometimes when she had dealt with injuries and she has dealt with illnesses. She gives it everything she’s got in a way that inspires people around her. She’s the one you can sympathize with when she is a having a hard day, and you just root for her every day and it is so exciting to see when it all works out.”

Held said Reusch has come a long way in developing her technique as a Nordic skier.

“I think about the first couple of times I saw her ski in the first races … and just the lengths we have come (with) her technique and her strategy and the races is incredible,” Held said. “She is so powerful. I just love watching her race out there.” 

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