Thursday, April 24, 2014
Alpine ski teams are allowed six entries in the state championship slalom and giant slalom races. Last winter, Cape Elizabeth mustered only four girls with the help of a skimeister whose main focus was Nordic.
Emma Landes, Cape Elizabeth junior: After missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, Landes returned to win her first two Western Maine Conference giant slalom races at Shawnee Peak. She also placed third in her first WMC slalom race.
Elyse Dinan, Greely senior: Won a WMC slalom race Monday at Shawnee Peak by more than five seconds of combined time over two runs and finished second in a WMC giant slalom Thursday.
Abby Mills, Scarborough senior: Won an SMAA slalom race by more than eight seconds and an SMAA giant slalom by nearly four seconds last week, both at Shawnee Peak.
Kaelyn Woods, Gray-New Gloucester sophomore: Won a 4.8-kilometer WMC skate race last week at Stark’s Hill in Fryeburg over a field of 77 with a time of 12 minutes, 36.7 seconds.
Forrest McCurdy, Merriconeag sophomore: After skiing for Freeport High last winter, McCurdy returned to Merriconeag and last week won a Western Maine Conference freestyle race at Stark’s Hill. On Monday, he anchored the winning quartet at a WMC Relays event at Stark’s Hill.
Sam Alexander, Yarmouth senior: Posted the fastest time in a 4-by-3.93-kilometer skate relay at Stark’s Hill on Monday (9:23) after finishing second in a 4.8K skate race there last week.
Ryder Bennell, Freeport junior: Won a WMC giant slalom race Monday at Shawnee Peak to lead the Falcons past Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth.
Curtis Paradis, Biddeford junior: Won an SMAA slalom race at Shawnee Peak by more than six seconds last week at Shawnee Peak.
This year, the 10th since the school first offered Alpine as a club sport, the Capers are a legitimate threat to win the first Alpine ski team championship in school history.
“They know that is a possibility,” said Jeff Davis, promoted from assistant to head Alpine coach after last season, when Shawn Guerrette took over the Nordic program.
In three recent Western Maine Conference races (a slalom and two giant slaloms), Cape Elizabeth beat and tied Yarmouth (which shared the Class B Alpine state title with Mt. Abram last winter), beat overall Class C champ Freeport three times and lost by a point to Greely, the defending Class A state champ.
What’s more, five Cape Elizabeth skiers posted at least one top-five finish during that eight-day stretch. Emma Dvorozniak won slalom. Emma Landes won both giant slaloms. Sophie Hewitt was runner-up in slalom and turned in the fastest time of the day before falling in the second run and not scoring in the giant slalom loss to Greely.
Freshmen Kinnon McGrath (fourth in giant slalom Monday) and Caroline Paclat (fifth) also contributed. Of those five, only Dvorozniak competed in last winter’s state meet.
“It’s a good group of girls and they’re exciting to watch,” said Davis. “Everyone has a lot of fun. A lot of them do weekend programs so they’ve got a lot of experience.”
One not enrolled in a weekend program is Landes, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Her weekends are spent teaching younger skiers at Sugarloaf.
“So it’s kind of neat that she’s doing so well,” Davis said. “She’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
Sara Paclat, who placed seventh in the first slalom race of the season, is the only returning senior. Sophomore Haley Fawcett is the other holdover, with Dvorozniak.
Cape’s fourth skier in Monday’s giant slalom was another surprise. Senior Abby McInerney, a standout in lacrosse and field hockey, made her ski racing debut a solid one, finishing 20th in the tie with Yarmouth.
“Giant slalom is not as technical as slalom,” Davis said. “She had never raced before but she’s a pretty good skier.”
Davis, who grew up in Falmouth playing soccer, leaves questions of technique to assistant coach Claude Lemelin, who returned to the program last year after helping it get off the ground as a club sport.
As for Guerrette, he said he’s having fun with Nordic but that, “I find myself experiencing muscle soreness more frequently than I did with Alpine.”
MERRICONEAG’S NORDIC team continues to be competitive against schools with enrollments 10 (Yarmouth) and 20 (Falmouth) times its student population of just 37.
Eleven schools took part in a WMC Skate Relay on Monday at Stark’s Hill in Fryeburg and the fastest foursome for both boys (Tucker Pierce, Forrest McCurdy, Graham Roeber and John Burgess) and girls (Fiona Ahearne, Samantha Pierce, Lily Tupper and Carlin Tindall) hailed from the small Waldorf school that’s based in New Gloucester.
“They have one of the top boys’ and girls’ teams in the entire state,” said Fryeburg Academy Coach John Weston.
“They are doing it consistently every year now. They have an equally impressive middle school program – pretty big numbers and always top results. Not sure what their formula is, but if they could bottle it … ”
In fairness, Merriconeaug Coach John Tarling said Yarmouth did not run all of its top skiers in the relay. Even so, he said of his hardy bunch, “it’s pretty amazing they’re able to compete with the big schools.”
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