December 17, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL SKIING NOTEBOOK: State meet format likely to chance in '14

Portland Press Herald

This is likely to be the last winter in a while to have all the state championship ski meets crammed into February vacation week, which is exactly when resorts such as Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Saddleback do not want to give up a lodge for a horde of high school teams packing crockpots and cupcakes.

None of those big three currently host a high school state meet. Mt. Abram will host Class A, Black Mountain B and Big Rock C in this last season of the current cycle.

The Maine Principals' Association ski committee will meet next month to discuss the possibility of holding the Alpine state meets at a time other than during school vacation, a decision that could bring some of the state's better-known mountains into play.

Two of the state's top-notch Nordic facilities -- Black Mountain in Rumford and the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle -- have plenty of room to spread out, so they likely will continue to host during school vacation.

"We would still have an overall championship," said Yarmouth principal Ted Hall, a member of the committee, "but at different times."

* * *

A handful of skiers who found success at last winter's state championship meets have opted to attend ski academies this winter instead of competing for their high school programs.

Sassi Memorial winner Sadie James is now skiing for Gould Academy instead of Mt. Abram. Gone from Class B state champion Yarmouth are senior Tara Humphries, the runner-up in both classical and freestyle and the Western Maine Conference skate champion, and junior Jack Elder, the state freestyle champ who was runner-up in classical. Both are attending ski schools in Vermont.

Ditto for junior Ian Moore, formerly of North Yarmouth Academy, the Class C classical champion who was runner-up in freestyle, and Elly Bengtsson, a junior from Freeport who was the Class C slalom and giant slalom.

All those skiers were ready to move up a level, said long-time Yarmouth coach Bob Morse.

"The high school programs give a great foundation," he said in an e-mail reponse, "but I cannot take two weeks off in November and take my team to Yellowstone or Canada for early-season skiing. I wish I could."

Another familiar name will be missing from local Nordic results this winter. Waynflete senior Josh Espy will concentrate on Eastern Cup races instead of high school competition.

"Maine has had a high number of skiers who have gone on to ski in college, and have not gone to a ski school," Morse said. "Nordic skiers do not reach their potential until their late 20s, so not many Nordic skiers continue the trail to the national team level of competition."


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