BRIDGTON — Elyse Dinan lost her pole. Joe Lesniak missed his start time.
They both wound up winners.
Dinan, a senior at Greely, and Lesniak, a senior at Falmouth, made up for first-run mishaps with blazing second runs to claim Class A giant slalom championships Thursday afternoon at Shawnee Peak.
“I hit a gate up top and it kind of flew out of my hand,” said Dinan, who managed to keep her balance over the East Slope headwall while maintaining a grip on her left pole. “I tried to keep my hand up as if I were still holding it. It was a little awkward, but it’s happened before.”
Dinan was the first of four Rangers to finish in the top 20 among 78 girls as Greely opened its Alpine title defense with a 30-point gap on Falmouth, 38-68. Kennebunk stands in third at 80, followed by Edward Little (64), Marshwood (116), Scarborough (139) and seven other schools. Falmouth holds a big lead in the overall standings.
Lesniak and his sophomore brother, Tom, led a 1-2 finish for the Falmouth boys, whose lack of depth allowed Mt. Blue to overcome a 26-point deficit following Nordic competition. Mt. Blue leads defending state champion Falmouth in the chase for the overall boys’ state title, 158-159, with Leavitt in third at 221.
It was the surprising Oxford Hills boys who emerged victorious in giant slalom, with 54 points to 60 for Mt. Blue. Matt Michaud (fifth), Chris Burns (ninth) and Ryland VanDecker (10th) led the way for the Vikings, whose only Alpine state title came in 2001.
“I knew we were capable, but I don’t go into these things with a lot of expectations,” said Oxford Hills Coach Mike Grace, whose team had not won a race all winter. “I had to get the best out of my top three, and then one of my other three guys would have to come in with a relatively decent finish, which my sixth kid did.”
The meet concludes Saturday with slalom races.
Already thin, Falmouth lost a skier because of a school suspension Wednesday and arrived in Bridgton with only four boys.
Scheduled as the third competitor in the opening group, Lesniak said he arrived one minute before the 2:30 p.m. start but “they were already past my bib.”
Organizers told Lesniak he could ski after everyone else, so he went on a couple free skiing runs while the others took their turns. Curtis Paradis of Biddeford wound up with the top time in the first run, but in the second run he got tangled in a gate three from the finish, helicoptered through the air and crashed, losing a ski in the process.
“I tried to cut it a little short to get a faster line and I just got caught up,” said Paradis, the defending Class A slalom champ.
Within 15 minutes of Lesniak concluding his first run, he was back in the starting area with the first group for a second run, which he negotiated in 45.69 seconds, more than a full second faster than anyone else. He beat his brother by nearly 2 seconds in a combined time of 1:32.24.
“A couple things fell in my favor,” he said. “Some kids unfortunately blew out on the second run.”
Dinan’s second run was actually her third. She was the 18th and last skier in the first grouping of the initial run, so she led off the second run, but before the timing system was set.
As she crossed the finish line, Dinan heard an announcer informing her of the timing glitch and telling her to head back up the mountain for a rerun.
“Actually, my run had a few mistakes in it that I wasn’t super-pleased with, so it was kind of nice to get a second chance at it,” she said. “Before my second run, I wasn’t sure how icy it was going to be, how rutty it was going to be, so it was actually a huge advantage to be able to see the course and then go race it again.
“My legs might have been a little more tired, but overall, I think it helped me more than anything.”
Falmouth sophomore Alex Shapiro, the early leader, skidded on the headwall during her second run and dropped to second overall, 2 seconds behind Dinan and 1 second ahead of teammate Krysia Lesniak, Tom’s twin sister.
“I felt really good on the first run,” Shapiro said. “I think I psyched myself out on the second run. I’m happy that I saved it (on the headwall), but I definitely lost a lot of time there.”
In the overall title chase, Falmouth more than doubled its lead over Mt. Blue, from 51 points after Nordic to 136 entering Saturday’s slalom. Through three of four events, Falmouth stands at 113, Mt. Blue at 249, Leavitt at 277, defending champion Oxford Hills at 373, Greely at 375 and Fryeburg Academy at 477.
“Our Nordic team (built) a pretty big lead,” Shapiro said. “So we’re just trying to hang on to it.”
Louis Frumer of Waynflete and Sarah Klein of Mountain Valley won giant slalom titles at Sunday River. Mountain Valley leads the Alpine meet for boys and girls, although Fort Kent is close behind in Alpine and way ahead overall.
Fort Kent’s boys hold a 138-333 advantage over Mountain Valley, with Telstar third at 422. Fort Kent’s girls lead Telstar 152-348, with Mountain Valley next at 392.
The slalom races are Friday.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: