February 20

Skiing state championships: Falmouth, Merriconeag sweep titles

Falmouth’s boys and girls win again in Class A, and Merriconeag repeats in Class C.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

RANGELEY — The first day of the Class A Nordic skiing championships put the Falmouth High boys in an unfamiliar position.

click image to enlarge

Lucy Mahoney, left, London Bernier, Anna Morin and Gabby Farrell of Falmouth celebrate their girls’ Class A Nordic skiing championship Thursday at the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center.

Glenn Jordan photo

Second place. They trailed Leavitt by two points.

“It was definitely different, because the past two years we’ve had a pretty large cushion,” said junior Gabe Mahoney. “But we’re stronger in skate skiing. We have a couple guys who are OK in classic, but they really kill it in skate skiing.”

Indeed, Falmouth grabbed second place (Mahoney), eighth (junior Iain Kurry), 10th (junior Ethan Cantlin) and 12th (sophomore Devin Ventura) in freestyle to clinch a third straight Class A Nordic title Thursday under sunny skies at the at the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center.

Falmouth finished the two-day Nordic competition with 72 points. Leavitt edged Mt. Blue for second place, 92-98. Portland was fourth at 198.

Earlier Thursday, Falmouth’s girls extended their already dominant lead as junior Anna Morin, freshman Gabby Farrell, sophomore London Bernier and freshman Lucy Mahoney finished 3-4-5-10. Falmouth wrapped up the two-day meet with 45 points to 94 for Mt. Blue and 124 for Leavitt.

“We inherited a great team,” said Falmouth’s first-year coach, Jen Harris, who credited assistants Karin Kurry and Sarah Beliveau and former coach James Demer for their help. “It was a combined effort.”

Individually, Mt. Ararat senior Sam Wood won for the second day in a row, completing the challenging 5-kilometer course in 14 minutes, 26 seconds despite falling twice, including 30 yards before the finish line.

“I just wasn’t paying attention,” Wood said. “I think fatigue played a role, too. We watched ‘The Shining’ last night at this pretty old hotel we were staying at last night, so I probably didn’t get the best night of sleep.”

Falmouth’s Mahoney was 12 seconds back in 14:38, followed by Portland senior Ben Allen (14:42) and Thornton Academy’s Mitchell Harris (15:07).

In the girls’ race, Mt. Blue senior Sarah Wade blew away the field of 54 by nearly a minute in 17:31. Runner-up Laura Frank of Portland (18:21) won a tight battle for second place over teammate Lizzy Landry (18:22) and Falmouth’s Morin (18:23).

Wade also won the Class A freestyle title last year and was runner-up as a sophomore. She was runner-up to Landry in Wednesday’s snowy classic race over the same course.

“Same course, but it’s a lot different,” on skate skis, Wade said. “It’s kind of that in-between steepness where you’re not sure if you should do V2 or V1, but because there’s so many of (the hills), you’re better off V1-ing and not wasting your energy.”

Conditions this week were much better than when Harris brought the Falmouth team to train over the same trails last weekend.

“When we came, the snow was soft and they didn’t have the right wax on,” Harris said. “So they were thinking, ‘Oh, this course isn’t going to be fast.’”

Last weekend, the long stretches of uphill taxed Falmouth’s freshmen, including Farrell, who said, “It was a killer course,” and Lucy Mahoney “I was in tears.”

On Thursday, after the girls had a prerace sing-a-long, Mahoney said she took the tunes to the trails.

“I had songs for each hill,” she said. “I was like, ‘You gotta push it, push it, to the limit.’”

Overall state champions will not be decided until next week’s Alpine meet at Shawnee Peak, scheduled for Thursday (giant slalom) and Saturday (slalom). Morin, Falmouth’s top Nordic finisher, will be there for the first time as a skimeister.

“The Falmouth Alpine team only has four girls,” Morin said, “so if one falls, they’re screwed by the points system. I’m their back-up.”

(Continued on page 2)

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