Wednesday, December 11, 2013
GREENWOOD — The Freeport girls stood tall in the final event of the Class C skiing state championships, and that made all the difference.
Led by sophomore Elly Bengtsson, the Falcons overcame a two-point deficit and surged past three-time defending champion Fort Kent in the concluding slalom competition Wednesday morning at Mt. Abram.
"Everybody finished all of our runs," said Bengtsson, whose whopping seven-second margin of victory gave her a second title to go with Tuesday's giant slalom crown. "If one of us fell, I don't know if we could have done it."
Freeport won the overall title by eight points, 153-161.
Backing Bengtsson were junior Taylor Enrico (third), senior Sarah Pier (10th) and freshman Wynne Cushing (11th).
"They skied smart," said Freeport's Alpine coach, Eric Wallace. "The goal was definitely to win as a team, not just to go for an individual win."
The Fort Kent boys returned the favor by taking the overall title held the past two years by Freeport. The Falcons entered the day with an 18-point deficit through three disciplines, which meant taking risks in hopes of catching Fort Kent.
Instead, they caught edges, wiping out any comeback hopes. Fort Kent grabbed four of the top 10 slalom slots to extend its lead and win the overall competition, 260-309. Telstar was third at 360.
"As the snow got some heat in it, it actually got some humidity draining in it, which made it very grippy and hooky," said Wallace. "As much as it looks like it's getting icier, it's actually getting grippier. So it threw them off a little bit that way."
Freshmen Ryder Bennell (second) and Blake Enrico (sixth) were the only Freeport boys among the top 15 in slalom. Mountain Valley senior Nate Nicols won the race in 1 minute, 15.51 seconds, by a margin of more than three seconds over Bennell.
Fort Kent also won the boys Alpine competition, with Mountain Valley second. For girls, Freeport and Fort Kent finished 1-2 in Alpine.
"They did a great job," Wallace said of his Alpine girls. "Taylor is skiing so much better this year. Wynne, as a freshman, was extremely nervous (Wednesday) morning. Wouldn't even talk."
Had any of Freeport's top four failed to finish, the Falcons would have wound up second to Fort Kent.
"I know (Pier) can ski faster, but she skied for the team, really smart," Wallace said. "She brought us right in there where we needed to be over Fort Kent."
If there were a gumption award, it surely would have gone to Fort Kent junior Brady Lizotte. On his first slalom run, he fell four times, mainly because of a loose binding, and each time climbed back up the course, eventually finishing in 5:34 to a rousing welcome at the base of Boris Badenov.
"There wasn't a dry eye anywhere," said a Freeport mom, Randall Thomas. "Everyone was cheering for him."
Lizotte wasn't competing as a skimeister, so there was no real need for him to complete the course. Only his conscience.
For his second run, he straddled a gate and once more had to stop and hike before continuing to the finish. His combined time of 6:42.73 was nearly four minutes slower than his nearest competitor.
"I'd rather not not finish and have a bad run," said Lizotte, holding a chocolate cupcake after the race. "It was not what I wanted, but ... ."
Before his cupcake, before boarding his bus for the eight-hour drive back to Fort Kent, Lizotte and several teammates helped roll up the finish-line fencing.
"What an unbelievable kid," Thomas said. "Tell him every Freeport parent was pulling for him."
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: