After nearly half a century of coaching Yarmouth High skiing, Bob Morse went out on top.

Sophia Laukli made sure of it.

A senior who returned to Yarmouth after a year abroad, Laukli dominated Maine’s Nordic scene. She won every race she entered during the Maine high school season – including the all-comers Sassi Memorial Classic in late January – and each technique in the Class B state meet in Fort Kent. Laukli also thrived at the Eastern high school championships at Black Mountain in Rumford and the junior national championships at Solder Hollow in Utah.

She is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram female Skier of the Year.

“She achieved all her goals,” said Morse, who retired after the season. “It’s one thing to say I’d like to win states or make top 10 (nationally). To do it is another.”

As a sophomore, Laukli placed third in classical and fourth in freestyle at the Class B state meet. She spent her junior year at a boarding school in the Swiss Alps, learning French.

Her parents met as Nordic teammates at the University of Colorado, where her father, Bjorn, who grew up in Norway, was a 1991 All-American skier in freestyle. Sophia, the youngest of three children, was an All-American in three events earlier this month at the junior nationals. In the under-18 age group, she placed eighth in the 10-kilometer freestyle, 10th in the 5K classic and, with two skiers from Vermont, was second in the 9K classic relay.

A week later she was back in Maine at the Eastern championships, winning the 5K freestyle over a field of 108 from five states and placing second in the 7.5K classical. She planned to wrap up her season this weekend in Craftsbury, Vermont, with a 10K skate race at the SuperTour finals. (Maine Olympic biathlete Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth will also compete.)

“I think I probably exceeded some of my expectations,” Laukli said. “I was really happy with my results.”

Laukli constructed a base for those results throughout the summer and fall, lifting weights, bounding up hills, roller-skiing with her friend and training partner, Olivia Skillings of Maine Coast Waldorf, and running with the Yarmouth state championship cross country team.

“Sophia had a very regimented training program,” Morse said. “She really dedicated herself this summer. As most Nordic coaches will tell you, your season begins in June.”

Instead of adding standardized tests and college application stress to the equation, Laukli opted to concentrate on skiing so that recruiters could see her at her best.

“I’ve talked to quite a few coaches,” said Laukli, who plans a gap year after high school to include some time in Norway before returning to the United States to race. “I still don’t have one (school) that I’m for-sure going to, but (I plan to be) staying in the East.”

Middlebury, Vermont and Dartmouth seem to be high on her list. She admits to a hint of envy to see her peers sifting through college acceptance offers and planning exciting futures, but Laukli knows her time will come.

“It would have been nice to get it out of the way,” she said. “But it will work out, I’m sure.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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