Truth be told, Roy Varney prefers to skate on his Nordic skis, gliding across snow-covered trails with powerful strides in the shape of the first letter of his surname.

Classical technique, with its kick-and-glide motion, demands more pure effort. This may explain why Varney excels at it more than he does in freestyle.

“Hard work has been part of his life for a long time,” said Leavitt High Coach Dustin Williamson. “His drive is just so extreme that it propels him up to elite class.”

Varney, a senior at the high school in Turner, is the two-time Class A classical state champion. He added the pursuit title last month at Stark’s Hill in Fryeburg and was Maine’s top qualifier for this weekend’s Eastern high school championship meet in Fort Kent.

In late January, he won the prestigious Sassi Memorial classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford over a field of 153 from all classes.

He is our choice as the Varsity Maine Boys’ Skier of the Year.

Growing up on the family farm – Nezinscot Farm in Turner is the state’s first organic dairy operation – Varney learned the importance of work at an early age. He regularly milks cows, feeds animals and collects eggs before school.

“Me and my brother get up every morning at 5:30 to do chores,” said Varney, whose brother, Everet, is a junior at Leavitt. “It’s not a lot of fun when you have to get to a ski race at 7 o’clock.”

His three older sisters have helped Williamson with coaching. An uncle has experience as a biathlon coach with the National Guard. Roy himself didn’t start skiing until seventh grade and played football his first two years in high school – center on offense and linebacker on defense. A partial dislocation of his sternum from getting hit in the chest by a helmet changed his outlook.

“I decided to do a lot more skiing,” Varney said, “and I started liking it more.”

After the Easterns, he will compete once more this season, at the U.S. biathlon national championships in Jericho, Vermont, at the end of March.

“I did it off the radar a little bit, with family,” Varney said of his experience with biathlon, “and just this year started competing.”

Williamson said Varney’s interest in Nordic skiing has grown beyond fondness for the sport.

“His passion for Nordic is huge,” Williamson said. “He also loves watching World Cup races online. He often comes into my classroom, though I don’t have him as a student, and is always ready to talk Nordic.”

Varney said he hopes to continue his career in college. He has been accepted at UM-Presque Isle and the University of New Hampshire, and is waiting to hear from Bates. His plan is to concentrate on environmental studies and business, and with his siblings keep the family farm running smoothly.

“I’m hoping to ski for whoever will let me,” he said.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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