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Sun Journal Girls Alpine Skier of the Year: Katie Yeaton, Mt. Blue

Apr. 2—Mt. Blue senior Katie Yeaton is a three-sport athlete — field hockey in the fall, Alpine skiing in the winter and tennis in the spring — but she is constantly chasing the feeling she gets from skiing.

"Ski racing is just really fun to me," Yeaton said. "I just love to go fast, and I love pushing myself on the slope. It's just a feeling that I couldn't get from any other sport or any other activity that I do."

Yeaton said she is in the gym a lot, working on strengthening her legs and explosive running, which translates into her skiing. She also lifts with the team and does exercises to build her core and strengthen her balance. Playing tennis improves her balance and coordination, which also improves her skiing.

Mt. Blue coach Mark Cyr called Yeaton the team's "greatest point getter, as far as results when it came to races," and said the team is going to miss her consistency of always finishing in the top five.

Yeaton's consistent high finishes is why she's been selected as the 2024 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Alpine Skier of the Year.

Results did not always come easy, Cyr said, and Yeaton was constantly having to work harder due to her small stature.

"Especially in some of the GS races that we had, where the course was set so that there weren't a lot of steep sections, the girls that were a little bigger in size had an advantage versus Katie weighing, you know, 110 (pounds)," Cyr said. "That hurt her in a lot of races, so she had to ski better and cleaner than some of the other girls because she just was fighting the weight issue that she just didn't have enough mass to get down the hill as quickly."

Among the challenges Yeaton faced as a smaller skier was that she couldn't slide through turns to generate more speed. Because of that, she needed to build more lower body strength to master the skill of generating speed.

The giant slalom course for the Class A state championships at Pleasant Mountain wasn't steep, and Cyr said that had a negative impact on Yeaton's results.

"It was very flat, no real steep section to that course, so she had to be extremely clean and accelerate out of every turn because she couldn't rely on gravity to help her," Cyr said.

Yeaton placed 12th in the GS, but the next day skied to a fourth-place finish in the slalom.

The state championships are Yeaton's proudest moment of the season — it was high stakes, which she said helped fuel her competitive spirit.

Although she said she was disappointed with her 12th place in the giant slalom, she did not give up and pushed hard to earn a fourth-place overall result in slalom. Between her first and second slalom runs, she improved from fifth fastest to third fastest.

"A lot of the other girls on the team fell or they fell one day of the race and not the other, and nobody gave up," Yeaton said. "We're all in really great space and it was just awesome to see the perseverance and teamwork that we had during states."

Yeaton also earned the KVAC title in the slalom.

Her favorite race of the season was in January at Titcomb Mountain, even though she didn't win. She said she struggled on her first run, but didn't give up and pushed hard on the second and had the fastest time on that run.

That race showed that the confidence building she worked on had paid off, because she proved to herself that she could push through hard race moments to get a more desirable result.

The biggest improvement Yeaton said she made throughout her high school career was learning how to be more laid back when it came to races, and not put so much pressure on herself.

"I used to worry a lot about skiing for the team, and I'd hold back a little so that I could finish and have a good run for the team," Yeaton said. "As I've gotten older, I still do that — I want my team to do well, and I want to see us all succeed instead of just myself; I don't want to be the one to cost the team a victory because I decided that I wanted to push way too hard, and I ended up ended up blowing out or falling.

"I've come to realize that I can push myself a little harder without being out of control and falling, so it's helped understanding that because then I can do better for the team."

Cyr complimented Yeaton's work ethic and said she still took it to heart when she did not have a great practice, but she learned how to push past feelings of frustration, which set a good example for the younger skiers on the team.

This year's Mt. Blue girls Alpine team was comprised mostly of upperclassmen but did have freshmen Isobel Hanson, who was new to high school racing, and exchange student Ines Gonzalzes Morera from Madrid who had never ski raced before.

"I just tried to continue the message like, 'You're just starting out, you don't have to be great,' just from the start," Yeaton said. "It takes time to build a skiing mentality and just the skill of skiing because it is a hard sport to master. Everyone's really hard on themselves when they first get into it, and I just told them, 'Don't be hard on yourself here, you're young, you really haven't had a lot of experience in high school races and they're very different from middle school racing.'"

When Yeaton skied for the Farmington Area Ski Team in middle school, she was coached by her father, Nathan Yeaton. Being coached by her dad and having his knowledge of the sport puts "a little bit of pressure" on her, she said, but he also has been a huge influence on her Alpine career.

"He knows when to calm me down and how to do it, and he knows the right things to say," Katie Yeaton said. "He's just a great coach that you can always rely on to tell you the right things. I mean, it was a really good experFience for me like, my first years, ski racing, I got to do it being coached by my own dad — it was really comforting as well."

Cyr and Yeaton have known each other since she was young, and she said she feels lucky to have had him as her high school coach, because of his ability to push her to better results while maintaining their joking relationship and dry senses of humor.

"He's always just a great person to be around, and I really couldn't have asked for a better high school coach," Yeaton said. "He's really close with my family, and he knows what he's talking about and he has a great knowledge for skiing. That's really what helped us because we've come down and he'd know exactly what we needed to fix, tell us how to fix it in a couple of drills, and is really just a great coach."

Yeaton qualified for the Maine State Alpine team her junior and senior years, and can handle the pressure of bigger events, Cyr said, which has prepped her for collegiate racing. Yeaton is committed to ski next year at St. Joseph's College.

"She knows the big venues and the big events, she knows how to handle herself," Cyr said. "She'll do very well in college; I've heard a lot of good things about the coach at St. Joe's."

Yeaton also got into freeskiing last year. She said whenever she's on snow, she's usually running drills or thinking about racing. Last year, her brother gave her his old pair of twin tips, and she's found a rhythm to casual skiing at Saddleback Mountain since.

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