Elyse Dinan is no stranger to the podium at the Class A state championship Alpine ski meet.
A senior at Greely High in Cumberland, Dinan has earned at least one medal each of the past three years, including her first two as the skimeister state champ.
What has proved elusive, however, is that top step. Despite three years of turning in the fastest time in the second of two slalom runs, Dinan has yet to win an individual Alpine title.
That may change this week.
“That’s the frustrating thing, knowing there’s potential there,” Dinan said. “I’m really hoping to put together two clean runs.”
Dinan’s first chance will come at noon Thursday at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, site of the Class A giant slalom, with boys to follow at 2:30 p.m. The Class A meet will conclude with the slalom Saturday at Shawnee Peak, with girls scheduled for runs at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m., and boys at 12:45 and 2:30 p.m.
The Class C meet at Sunday River in Bethel, will race giant slalom Thursday and slalom Friday at the same times as the A meet.
The Class B state meet will run Friday (giant slalom) and Saturday (slalom) at Mt. Abram in Greenwood.
This is the first year that the Maine Principals’ Association has separated the Nordic and Alpine state meets by a week, so overall ski titles also will be determined this weekend.
“I was grateful to have all of (school) vacation week off,” said Dinan, who spent many of her daylight hours last week running gates at Sugarloaf, where she participates in a weekend training program.
In previous state meets, Dinan placed second twice and third once in giant slalom. In slalom, falls in her first runs freshman and sophomore years led to finishes of ninth and 42nd before she skied to third last winter.
Greely Alpine Coach Mark Ouellette said he sees a more mature skier in Dinan, who dropped her skimeister duties after sophomore year to focus entirely on Alpine, which she calls her passion.
“She deals with adversity much better,” Ouellette said. “She’s obviously much stronger now than she was then, both within the sport and with all the (mental) stuff.”
A soccer goalie and softball third baseman, Dinan brings an athleticism to the slopes as well as an awareness of her team responsibility to remain upright rather than go all out for individual honors.
“My skiing style has definitely changed a lot this year,” Dinan said. “So my approach has changed, too. I’m a little bit more confident in my ability to ski hard and ski well. I’m still going to be a little careful to make sure it all goes well. I’ll gauge how to ski my second run based on how everyone else does and how the team stands.”
With Dinan and talented classmates Jill Booth, Teal Otley, Kristin Dugas at the core, Greely has lost one meet in four years, the 2012 Class A Alpine title to Mt. Blue by five points. The Rangers are favored to defend their title this weekend, although the overall title seems destined for Falmouth, which opened a 51-point lead on Mt. Blue and 70 on Leavitt through last week’s Nordic events. Greely ranks ninth of the nine schools in the Nordic races in Rangeley.
Between giant slalom and slalom (another event booked at Shawnee Peak on Friday led to the unusual gap day), Dinan will have her mind on other matters. Greely is hosting a District Jazz Festival Thursday night, and she is hopeful of bringing her baritone saxophone back to the state festival next month.
“She’s an overachiever,” Ouellette said.
And an individual state champion? Time will tell.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: