Most of the winter sports were able to begin conditioning and practices a week ago. Today was the first day of practice for ski teams. Once again this year County teams are looking for solid finishes at the State Championships. Last year The Fort Kent Boys Nordic ski team won the State Class C Championship and the Fort Kent girls Alpine team won the State Class B title. Also Niko Naranja of Fort Kent and Max Bartley of Presque Isle won State Nordic Titles and Isabelle Jandreau of Madawaska claimed two State titles winning both the Classic and the free style races. Today was the day that teams could hold their first practice and the skiers and coaches were very happy to be able to put the skis on and practice. Neal Sleeper is the Caribou alpine coach and the team was able to utilize the hill at the school on the first day of practice for the first time he can remember
<(Neal Sleeper):" I reminded out team just a second ago that I bet we are one of the only teams in Northern Maine that has been out on the snow or is out on the snow on opening day of winter sports practice. It is really incredible and will give these kids an excellent opportunity to get their feet underneath them."
Sleeper held a meeting before the athletes put their gear on and headed to the hill. The Coach feels this will be beneficial to the team down the road.
Sleeper:" We are really luck and this is an unusual start to our winter. I think a lot of people are really taking advantage of it through Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. it has been an excellent boost to the economy up here. Kids are so eager to get out on the snow and never before during my four years have we been on the snow the first day."
Meanwhile Nordic skis were being waxed as the nordic teams also able to get in a training run.
(Evan Graves):" Super special having the snow and having a good amount of snow that has been groomed. A lot of kids have been out there already so it is an added bonus to get out on the snow and get started on the season."
Normally the nordic skiers are doing a lot of running as part of their training
Graves:" It is good to have the dryland training, but if we can be on snow that is the best thing for us."
The nordic coach feels that the early start with skis will be a real benefit to his team and other teams around the area
Graves:" It extends the season nicely. It prepares us and we can get out ski legs under us. The kids can get stronger and faster and be more comfortable on skis."