Skiing: With the resumption of the state championships, skiers are delighted to be back on the slopes

Breezy Quimby from Rangeley Lakes Regional School races down the Gray Ghost Ski Trail Wednesday at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley. Daryn Slover / Journal of the Sun

RANGELEY – Rangeley senior Breezy Quimby started her alpine ski season in what might as well be her backyard, and her smile revealed how she was feeling.

“It’s super exciting to be back at my favorite mountain,” Quimby said after completing her second run at a season opener at Saddleback Mountain, where she said she all skied. the days during the winter. “This is where I grew up skiing. I started skiing when I was able to start walking. … It feels good to be back. “

The season of at least eight teams started on Wednesday at Saddleback, and for some of those teams it will end there as well. Saddleback will host the Class B Alpine Championships this year while Black Mountain in Rumford will host them in Class A, marking the return of the State Championships after a season without them due to the pandemic.

For skiers taking on Saddleback’s Gray Ghost Giant Slalom Track on Wednesday, the chance to compete again for the ultimate prize at the end of the season added more flavor to the season launch event.

“I’m so excited to see them again,” said Katie Yeaton, sophomore Mt. Blue, who placed third in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference slalom championship last season. “It was really (incomplete). I just felt like something was missing last year.

“It’s good. I’m definitely going to go harder than I did last year,” said Skowhegan sophomore Asa Stroman, “It’s very important. It helps me to surpass myself.

Ian Allen, a senior from Mt. Abram, said not having a state championship last year resulted in an unsatisfactory end to the season.

“It was tough,” said Allen, who was seventh at the Mountain Valley Conference championships last year in giant slalom and eighth in slalom. “It’s like you’re climbing a mountain, and it’s raining and it’s so foggy that you can’t see the view. You do all the work for no reward. It really helps to know that there is an endgame, that there is something you can leave with your younger classmates, something that you can actually look forward to to inspire them. for the coming years.

Sadie McDonough of Mt. Blue, back in her final year after finishing fifth in the KVAC slalom and giant slalom, said last year was special in that the season was less than a year old. after the start of the pandemic, but added that more competitive opportunities make for a better season.

“I don’t think we were disappointed. We had a good season, we won KVACs, the boys too. It was enough to make us feel good, ”she said. “But it’s going to be fun having States, because we can just see different teams that we don’t normally see in our area. … I see these people all the time, and it’s really fun to run against them, but it’s also fun to see new faces.

This social aspect is another difference this season compared to the last. Last winter the races were smaller with fewer teams, and skiers were invited to go directly from the bus or car to the start line. This year the races are bigger which skiers say adds more buzz to the events.

“Last year was a little different,” said Meghan Mahoney, senior from Maranacook. “We didn’t have that many races, there weren’t that many people at the races. It feels real again. … The States are a lot more people there, there are people I haven’t skied with there. It’s just bringing back that first year and second year thrill when we got it. … This is such a great motivation. It makes me want to work harder.

Molly Kearing of Mt. Blue High School races down the Gray Ghost Ski Trail Wednesday at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley. Daryn Slover / Journal of the Sun

“Last year was really cramped, like we were just trying to push everything in a race,” McDonough said. “Now I feel like it’s your run and then you look at people and then you get your jacket back. There is more routine than before.

Stroman also said he looks forward to the great racing atmosphere.

“I feel like I see a lot more runners than I was able to do last year, a lot more diversity from different schools,” he said. “I see more high level skiers than usual. … It’s just a lot more fun to be back with these guys.

The road to these championships started on Wednesday, with many skiers admitting they still have a way to go before they are in state competition form.

“I was really nervous at the start of this race,” said Yeaton. “We haven’t been in the gates yet this year, it was my first time in the gates so far. I was a little nervous at first, skied cautiously and then felt better. I feel really good for this year.

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