Emma Charles was unbeaten in Maine high school state championship races during her four years skiing for Mt. Blue, capped by her runaway victory in the Class A freestyle pursuit on Feb. 24 at Black Mountain. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

On the cross-country ski trails of Titcomb Mountain in Farmington lurks a particularly challenging downhill corner. A successful turn demands quick reactions, technical know-how, a healthy dose of courage and – at least for Emma Charles – a throaty yodel.

Emma Charles

“We’ve renamed it Loon Call Corner,” said Mt. Blue Nordic Coach Emmy Held. “Every time we practice on it, Emma is doing these shrieking loon calls that are actually quite accurate. She brings a lot of joy to the whole team.”

Joy … and hardware. Charles was head and shoulders above her in-state competition this winter, and not only because of her 6-foot stature.

She won the Class A classical, freestyle and pursuit state championships at Black Mountain in a combined time that left a two-minute gap between herself and her nearest competitor, teammate Brynne Robbins. Heck, fewer than half a dozen boys in any of the three classes managed to beat the time posted by Charles, who finishes her career a perfect 9-for-9 in state championship races.

For the second time, Charles is our choice as Varsity Maine Girls’ Skier of the Year. She also earned the honor as a sophomore.

“What’s awesome about Emma is that she can be so serious about racing but she also has so much fun,” Held said. “She’s an absolute character, pretty much a goofball, even though she’s very serious about her training and work ethic.”


Indeed, Charles plans to continue her skiing career at the University of New Hampshire, which competes at the NCAA Division I level. Charles was Maine’s top finisher at the Eastern High School Championships, taking third in both a 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint and a 7.5K classical race.

She also represented New England at Junior Nationals in Minnesota, where she placed 12th of 98 in a 5K freestyle race for girls 18-and-under.

Held said she has seen Charles grow more confident throughout her high school career and more adept at handling the “pressure for her to constantly be the phenom.” Juggling high-level weekend racing and travel with the demands of the high school season can be challenging, but Held said Charles managed to strike a healthy balance.

“It means so much to her to wear that blue and gold and represent Mt. Blue out there,” said Held, who could count on Charles to help in the wax room or assist other skiers on her rest days.

When not on skis, Charles plays violin and practices weekly with the Franklin County Fiddlers. Although concerts have been shelved because of the pandemic, Charles said she appreciates being able to practice in person these days, rather than through Zoom.

She also runs cross country in the fall, and last spring chose tennis over another season of track. She played doubles with Nordic teammate Kamryn Joyce and hopes to continue the pairing this spring. She figures the break is beneficial for her body.


“Last year was the first year that I haven’t been injured over the (ski) season since sixth or seventh grade,” she said.

In the fall, she made a verbal commitment to New Hampshire and is considering a concentration in wildlife biology and conservation. The black St. Lawrence ski jacket handed down from her sister, Meg (due to graduate this spring), has been repurposed thanks to a UNH patch sewn in a strategic spot.

Yodeling, laughing, postrace dancing and racing with glittered, painted cheeks all play roles in what can be a grueling test of endurance.

“It just makes it more fun,” Charles said. “If we were on a serious team that only did intervals, and did easy days on our own, I probably wouldn’t love the sport the way I do.”


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