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Eliza Skillings-State Champion Spotlight

We now spotlight sophomore Eliza Skillings of Maine Coast.  She was the 2019 Class C freestyle state champion.  We asked her about her season andEliza what moment she will remember the most from this season.

1. What were your preparations leading up to the state meet?
In the weeks leading up to states I began to cut back on the volume and focus more on speed. I tried to get lots of sleep and stay hydrated, and most of all stay healthy. Staying healthy can make or break a season, especially towards the end.

2. How did you deal with the pressure and emotions that come along with competing in a state meet? When I was younger, I used to get so nervous before races I felt like throwing up, but as I’ve gotten older my attitude towards competing has changed. Rather than thinking about results I focus on skiing smart and relaxed. Right now there are so many girls who are such strong skiers that anyone can win on a given day. I make myself decide whether or not I had a good race before I look at the results. So, as long as I know I have done my best, I am happy with my race no matter what the results say. That takes a lot of the pressure off! I wish I could say I don’t get nervous anymore, unfortunately that's not true, but my nerves are no longer as much of an issue for me.

3. What was going through your mind at the starting gate in the pursuit knowing that you could win?

I love the course at Titcomb. It’s probably my favorite place to ski, especially freestyle, so I was really excited to get out on the course. I’m much better at trying to catch people than I am at trying not to be caught, so I felt like I was in a really good position when I started. I knew that if I skied the course well and focused on good technique I could have a good race, but I really tried not to think about end results and just focus on skiing well.

4. You won the freestyle, what makes you so good and what do you contribute to your success? I grew up chasing my older sister Olivia around the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. I learned to ski by watching what she was doing and trying to mimic her technique. The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center is very hilly, and we spent countless hours going up hills, just so we could race each other down. Because of this I’ve learned to love the hills. Not only did it strengthen my ability to go up, it also created a love for going downhill as fast as possible. On a course like Titcomb, where the first half is uphill and the second consists of steep downs and hair pin turns, this came in very handy. I skied hard up the hills and then went for it on the downs, putting all my energy into finding the best line and not falling. It’s a risky strategy and could have easily ended with me in a ditch, but luckily I stayed on my feet.

5.As a sophomore, what are your goals for next year? Going into the next two years I would love to continue to ski well on the high school circuit and work toward becoming competitive in Eastern Cups and at the New England level. But most of all my goal is always to improve as a skier, be a good teammate, and continue to have fun every time I’m on snow. To me, these are the most important things.

6.What surprised you most about this season? I spent the majority of my summer biking long distances at low levels of intensity, and right after that I jumped into cross country season. I did not spend as much time doing ski specific training as I would have liked, but I built a strong base. I was pleasantly surprised by how strong my legs felt when I finally got on snow.

7. What moment/event will you remember most from this season? It’s hard for me to focus on a single moment, it was such an incredible year. I think what stays with me most after every ski season is the nordic community. The amount of hard work that everyone who skis puts in never ceases to amaze me. You would expect a group of athletes who are this driven to be very competitive with each other, however that is not the case. I have never met more supportive and humble people than those who I encounter at ski races. Every time someone passed me in a race this year they said good job. It seems mundane, but summoning enough breath to say good job while skiing as hard as you can is not an easy thing to do! When I look back on this season what stands out the most is all the kindness that was shown to me by my competitors.

8. What do you like most about nordic skiing? I love to nordic ski because it is a sport in which I can push myself to the extent of my ability. What brings me back to skiing year after year is the people; the great friends I have made while competing, the excellent and supportive coaches I have worked with, and the infectious love for the sport that everyone in the community expresses.

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