Ruslan Reiter doesn’t mind talking about his adventures with the United States Paralympic Nordic ski team, but he’s probably not going to volunteer the information.

“You would not know he is an Olympic-level athlete by talking to him, and he would try and play it down if you talked to him about it,” said Zachary Holman, Reiter’s friend and teammate on the Maranacook Community High School Nordic team.

While Reiter’s friends and family marvel at his success against international competition in World Cup races, Reiter quietly goes about the business of becoming one of the top Paraylmpic Nordic skiers in the world.

That made Reiter a most deserving winner of The Wow Factor award at the Varsity Maine Awards.

“How could you not pick that kid?” said Steve DeAngelis, Reiter’s Nordic coach at Maranacook, shortly after he and Reiter each took home honors at the Varsity Maine Awards.

Reiter was born with a limb difference, and his right arm ends just above the wrist. Competing for Maranacook as a sophomore, Reiter caught the eye of Team USA coaches, who invited him to a training camp in Bend, Oregon. Reiter showed potential, and was invited to join Team USA at a World Cup competition last December in Finland.

In March, a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday and one of the youngest skiers in the field, Reiter raced for Team USA in another World Cup event, this time in Pyeongchang, South Korea, site of the upcoming 2018 Winter Games. Reiter placed 14th in the men’s standing class, the top finish for a North American skier.

Ruslan Reiter of Maranacook was noticed by Team USA coaches while competing for Maranacook and has become one of the world’s top Paralympic Nordic skiers.

“Ruslan has been my best friend for many years now. I have watched him grow as both an athlete, and as a leader. Even after knowing him for all these years, he never ceases to impress me,” Holman said. “He is without a doubt one of the greatest athletes I know, and is always pushing himself to his limits. He has this infectious optimism, and is so incredibly humble.”

Reiter also competes on the cross country and outdoor track and field teams. His Nordic success comes despite being a relative novice to the sport. Reiter didn’t begin skiing competitively until seventh grade.

DeAngelis can’t wait to see how much Reiter continues to improve over the coming years.

“Everybody has the dream, when you’re coaching, one of your athletes is going to go on and be an Olympian or be a professional player, something like that,” DeAngelis said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM