It took four years, but Abby Mace finally made the transition from runner to skier, just in time to hang up her poles for good.

“She’s always been able to get by on her motor,” said Maranacook Nordic Coach Steve DeAngelis, who cajoled Mace into trying the sport as an eighth-grader with a running background, “but she really did turn out to be an outstanding skier this year.”

A senior from Readfield, Mace won the Class B classical and freestyle state titles and was Maine’s top qualifier for the Eastern High School Nordic Championships. Originally an Alpine skier, she won the Class B skimeister award as a freshman before focusing on Nordic.

Like Mace, Merriconeag junior Zoe Chace-Donahue (in Class C) swept both Nordic state titles, and sophomores Elise Luce of Mt. Abram (in Class B) and Elly Bengtsson of Freeport (in Class C) won slalom and giant slalom titles. Falmouth sophomore Leika Scott won Class A slalom and Eastern High School giant slalom titles.

From a field of qualified candidates, we chose Mace as our Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ skier of the year.

“She’s about as coachable as anybody I’ve ever had,” DeAngelis said. “She is just an unbelievable listener and competitor.”

Ranked eighth in her class academically, Mace will attend the University of Connecticut, which recruited her for a running resume that includes two cross country and seven individual track state titles. As a senior, however, she finished a disappointing third in cross country and vowed to make her winter one to remember.

To do so, her technique needed to improve. DeAngelis worked with her on proper positioning of her feet in freestyle and driving her legs forward in classic. He adjusted her hands upward to get more reach before planting her poles.

“Little things,” she said, “but little things that can really make a difference in a race.”

A race such as the Class B classical championship at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle, where a surprisingly heavy squall at the start of the race resulted in snow clumping to ski bottoms waxed for drier conditions. Mace was far enough back in the order that her coaches could add a hasty coat of correcting wax, but it didn’t last through all five kilometers.

“You constantly had to get the snow off your skis,” Mace said. “It was difficult.”

With a kilometer to go, Mace trailed Yarmouth junior Tara Humphries by 20 seconds.

“Abby just didn’t quit,” DeAngelis said. “You could not win that race on just running. You had to be able to ski and that was a really impressive day for her.”

As it turned out, Mace was the only skier in a field of 46 able to break 20 minutes.

For college, she knows she made the right choice of running over skiing.

“But I’ll miss it,” she said. “I ended up liking it a lot more than I ever thought I would.” 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH