April 1, 2012

Telegram All-State Skiing
Girls: A runner turns to skiing, and turns into the state's best

Abby Mace of Maranacook made the transition, but will be back running for UConn.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

Abby Mace of Maranacook improved her technique despite having to travel to find snow, and won the Class B classical and freestyle state championships this past winter.

Dave Allen Graphics

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Abby Mace

TELEGRAM ALL-STATE GIRLS' SKIING

Elly Bengtsson, Freeport sophomore

Won slalom (by seven seconds) and giant slalom (by three seconds) to lead Falcons to Class C Alpine and overall championships.

Zoe Chace-Donahue, Merriconeag junior

Swept Class C classical and freestyle titles for third straight year, leading Merriconeag to second consecutive Nordic championship.

Elyse Dinan, Greely sophomore

Third-place finish in giant slalom led to successful defense of her Class A skimeister title and helped Rangers finish second in Alpine.

Tara Humphries, Yarmouth junior

Runner-up to Abby Mace in Class B classical and freestyle races. Also finished second in Eastern High School qualifier. 

Sadie James, Mt. Abram junior

Champion of the prestigious Sassi Memorial classical race in late January and third-place finisher in Eastern High School qualifier.

Ginger Kieffer, Caribou junior

Placed sixth in Class B slalom, and among top 15 in giant slalom and freestyle to win skimeister title.

Elise Luce, Mt. Abram sophomore

Won slalom and giant slalom in Class B, and finished first among Maine skiers in Eastern High School qualifier.

Erin Luce, Mt. Abram senior

Runner-up to her sister in slalom and giant slalom in Class B, and was third Maine qualifier for Eastern High School championships.

Abby Mace, Maranacook senior

Class B state champ in classical and freestyle. Also posted best overall time among Maine skiers in the Eastern High School qualifier.

Roxanne Pelletier, Fort Kent senior

Third in classic and fifth in freestyle, paving the way for second straight Class C skimeister title.

Marissa Roberts, Gorham junior

Class A giant slalom champion who placed third in slalom and was fourth qualifier from Maine for Eastern High School championships.

Leika Scott, Falmouth sophomore

Class A slalom champion and runner-up in giant slalom, also won Eastern High School giant slalom title.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Bob Grout, Yarmouth Alpine

Despite an unusually small contingent that included only three skiers most of the season, Grout took four Alpine skiers and one skimeister to Mars Hill and led the Clippers to within nine points of Camden Hills in the Alpine standings, helping Yarmouth easily win its sixth straight overall title.

It took four years, but Abby Mace finally made the transition from runner to skier, just in time to hang up her poles for good.

"She's always been able to get by on her motor," said Maranacook Nordic Coach Steve DeAngelis, who cajoled Mace into trying the sport as an eighth-grader with a running background, "but she really did turn out to be an outstanding skier this year."

A senior from Readfield, Mace won the Class B classical and freestyle state titles and was Maine's top qualifier for the Eastern High School Nordic Championships. Originally an Alpine skier, she won the Class B skimeister award as a freshman before focusing on Nordic.

Like Mace, Merriconeag junior Zoe Chace-Donahue (in Class C) swept both Nordic state titles, and sophomores Elise Luce of Mt. Abram (in Class B) and Elly Bengtsson of Freeport (in Class C) won slalom and giant slalom titles. Falmouth sophomore Leika Scott won Class A slalom and Eastern High School giant slalom titles.

From a field of qualified candidates, we chose Mace as our Maine Sunday Telegram girls' skier of the year.

"She's about as coachable as anybody I've ever had," DeAngelis said. "She is just an unbelievable listener and competitor."

Ranked eighth in her class academically, Mace will attend the University of Connecticut, which recruited her for a running resume that includes two cross country and seven individual track state titles. As a senior, however, she finished a disappointing third in cross country and vowed to make her winter one to remember.

To do so, her technique needed to improve. DeAngelis worked with her on proper positioning of her feet in freestyle and driving her legs forward in classic. He adjusted her hands upward to get more reach before planting her poles.

"Little things," she said, "but little things that can really make a difference in a race."

A race such as the Class B classical championship at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle, where a surprisingly heavy squall at the start of the race resulted in snow clumping to ski bottoms waxed for drier conditions. Mace was far enough back in the order that her coaches could add a hasty coat of correcting wax, but it didn't last through all five kilometers.

"You constantly had to get the snow off your skis," Mace said. "It was difficult."

With a kilometer to go, Mace trailed Yarmouth junior Tara Humphries by 20 seconds.

"Abby just didn't quit," DeAngelis said. "You could not win that race on just running. You had to be able to ski and that was a really impressive day for her."

As it turned out, Mace was the only skier in a field of 46 able to break 20 minutes.

For college, she knows she made the right choice of running over skiing.

"But I'll miss it," she said. "I ended up liking it a lot more than I ever thought I would." 

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

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

 

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