Before each race, Silas Eastman likes to know something about the rest of the field, particularly those Nordic skiers whose skills might match or surpass his own.
“I’ll watch how they go into the race, what they’re stronger at, all that stuff,” Eastman said, “so when I get in a head-to-head, really competitive race with them, I’ll know what my strengths are compared to theirs.”
Last winter, in Maine and across New England, their strengths never measured up to Eastman, a Fryeburg Academy senior who swept the Class A freestyle and classical state titles for the third straight year, and capped an unbeaten season by winning all three races at the Eastern high school championships in Presque Isle.
For the second year in succession, he is the Maine Sunday Telegram male skier of the year. He was also the 2011 cross country runner of the year and plans to pursue both sports at Colby College, his mother’s alma mater.
“He’s kind of the epitome of a rising tide lifts all ships,” said Fryeburg Nordic Coach John Weston. “He makes everyone around him better. You see that not just with his teammates, but he raised the level of the competitors who are trying to beat him, and he certainly raises the level of his coaches.”
Weston said Eastman’s obvious physical attributes — which draw plenty of broad-chested comparisons to Greely graduate Ben True, who combined Nordic skiing and cross country running at Dartmouth before becoming a pro runner — are only part of the story. Eastman possesses not only powerful calves and quads, but a keenly questioning cranium.
“He does so much thinking himself,” Weston said. “He’ll analyze a course and have it thought out before we even get to talk about it. I’ll say, ‘What are your thoughts on this course or that course?’ And he’ll say, ‘Here’s where I want to attack; here’s where I think I’ll rest.’ ”
Eastman kicked off his season in late January by winning the prestigious Sassi Memorial classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford for the third straight year against more than 200 Maine skiers.
“I’d say that was the most challenging,” Eastman said, “just because it’s such a big field and a lot of the kids I hadn’t raced yet this year, so I couldn’t predict who was going to be pushing me. I kind of went in blind and just had to push myself as hard as I could.”
Eastman won by 27 seconds over Daniel Streinz of Katahdin. Eastman’s winning margins in the Class A state championships were even greater: 36 seconds in freestyle over Ben Allen of Portland and 35 seconds over Dustin Ramsay of Hampden Academy in classical.
At the Easterns earlier this month, Eastman won the 5-kilometer freestyle on Day 1. On Day 2 he won the 7.5K classical in the morning and took a 1.5K sprint in the afternoon.
“Rarely do you see a person win the 2-mile at a track meet and also win the 100-meter dash,” Weston said. “You have athletes who are better at distance and you have athletes who are better at sprints.”
In Eastman, you also have an athlete who excels at academics, built his own treehouse on the family farm in Chatham, N.H., and plans to design his own major (furniture design) at Colby. Already in shop class at Fryeburg he has built a futon and a Morris chair, and is at work on a grandfather clock.
After a recent interview, Eastman wrote an email with a polite request.
“I really want to say a big thank you to my coach, John Weston,” Eastman wrote. “I couldn’t have made it to where I am today without his coaching and constant support. I hope that’s not too much trouble.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: