Silas Eastman can’t even remember when he started skiing.

Following his parents through the backyard of their family farm in Chatham, N.H., just over the Maine border, he would slog behind them until reaching a snowmobile trail, then shuffle joylessly on skis with fish-scale bottoms.

“Looking back, I never would have thought I would get into competitive skiing,” he said, “because it was so miserable back then.”

Eastman stuck with it, however, and eventually discovered the speed and thrill that comes with skate skiing.

A junior at Fryeburg Academy, Eastman won Class B state championships in classical and freestyle, as well as Western Maine Conference titles in both disciplines and the Sassi Memorial 5-kilometer classical race in late January.

“He was Maine’s top skier all year and he’s a great kid, too,” said Fryeburg Coach John Weston, who heard plenty of feedback from colleagues at the Eastern High School Championships held last month in Vermont.

“All the other coaches were saying, ‘Boy, this is someone who’s very talented, but is still very coachable and will listen to you.’ That’s a rare thing.”

Eastman is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ skier of the year.

No other Nordic skier won two individual state titles this winter and only one Alpine skier – Mountain Valley senior Nathan Nicols in Class C – swept slalom and giant slalom.

Eastman didn’t win every race he entered in Maine this winter, but his only loss came with an asterisk.

At his first big WMC meet of the season in early February, Eastman was on the course exhorting the Fryeburg girls’ team and didn’t realize his start time was earlier than usual because of darkness concerns. When he returned to the start/finish area at Starks Hill – his home course – Eastman encountered an out-of-breath teammate telling him the boys’ race was beginning.

Quickly stripping off his sweats and clicking into his skis, Eastman scrambled to the line and took off, but the clock had already begun.

“He missed it, I think, by over two minutes,” Weston said. “He tried his best to make up for it but he couldn’t do it.”

Eastman finished 15th. That he lost bothers him less than the missed opportunity to match strides with his closest competitors.

“That was one of the races I was really looking forward to,” he said. “I guess it’s good to have one of those because you’ll never do it again.”

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

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH