FA’s Eastman, Liljedahl win Class A state ski titles

Silas Eastman

Silas Eastman

RUMFORD — The Fryeburg Academy Nordic Ski Teams completed their season last Tuesday at the State Class A Ski meet in Rumford.

The Nordic teams raced on back-to-back days starting with the classic race on Monday.  It was a pretty brutal day.  The wind usually blows at Black Mountain, but it was gusting up to 50 mph making for very cold wind chill with temps around 20 and whiteout situations with blowing snow.

“The wind was swirling, knocking things over, and if you were unlucky when a gust came through it could really affect your race,” FA Nordic Coach John Weston said. “I saw gusts stop kids in place, even forcing some to start double poling on a downhill! Under most circumstances, the race would have been postponed, but this was the state meet and air temperatures were above the threshold of 10 degrees, so we raced on.”

Additionally, conditions made grooming hard, which created a less-than-ideal course and that made waxing tough.

“Some kids had wax that they could make work, others had a tough time finding kick,” Weston said.

The next day was the skate race and what a difference a day made. No wind and temps in the mid to upper 30s allowed the groomers to offer much better snow and course.

The story of the meet was the swan song for Raider senior Silas Eastman. Having won both state meet races his sophomore and junior years, he was the obvious favorite. With the top seed also came the additional pressure of expectations. That pressure is something that has rarely, if ever, weighed on Silas and these races would not be the exception.  He skied to victories in both races claiming his unbelievable eighth and ninth state champion titles (six in skiing, three in cross-country running and track — not to mention a skiing team championship as well). The titles also capped off an undefeated high school season.  In head-to-head Maine high school competition, Silas hasn’t lost a ski race since his sophomore year when his brother edged him in the conference championship skate race.  That’s an impressive run.

“I overheard a group of boys from another school at a race recently saying that they had redefined winning as coming in second to Silas,” Weston said.

Silas’s season will continue though as he prepares for New England Championships in few weeks.  He is then off to ski for the Division 1 Colby team next year.  They are very excited in Waterville to have Silas coming there.

Silas wasn’t the only senior racing and he also wasn’t the only Fryeburg skier to emerge from the state meet with a championship.  Second-year skimeister senior Kelsey Liljedahl took the top spot on the podium claiming FA’s first skimeister title in 26 years (Heather Pike ’87).

“Kelsey has worked hard all season looking to improve her runner-up finish from last year,” Coach Weston said. “It was a long three days of racing for her with early mornings and traveling back-and-forth between venues over some really bad roads. She was spent, but happy.”

Not to be forgotten, her younger brother, Jesse, came in second in the skimeister in his first year of meister competition.  Jesse is a junior so he will be focused in the off-season eyeing the top spot next year.

Coming off very strong conference championship races seniors Logan Gerchman and Hannah Plowden both finished off their high school careers with top 30 finishes in both races.  As mentioned, the week prior at conference championships, Logan had the best races of his career with a 12th in skate and 6th in classic, giving him all-conference recognition. Hannah had a 22nd place finish in the classic, a great finish for her in a tough conference.

Other noteworthy finishes from the state meet were junior Liam LeConey with a 29th in classic and freshman Patrick Carty with a 33rd in the skate.

“Liam started coming on strong at the end of the season, which will hopefully segue into next season,” Coach Weston said. “The same can be said for Patrick, but as a freshman, his strong results become more impressive.  Patrick has a great head on his shoulders and is mature beyond his years.  If his development over the next three years is anything like this year, he will have a bright future.”

The boys finished in fourth as a team.

For the girls, junior Amber Dindorf scored for the team in both races as she has all season and improved her finish at the state meet over last years.

Sophomore Kirsten Dostie completed the scoring for the team in both races along with the aforementioned Kelsey Liljedahl.  First-year skier junior Juliet Fink made the state team for the girls and was fifth on the team for both races helping the girls finish sixth for Nordic and third in the overall combined with Alpine.

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