Gagne edges Doyle for Individual title
CHARLEMONT — Frontier Regional School’s Sean Doyle and Longmeadow High School’s Kyle Gagne have been at the top of the PVIAC skiing standings all season, and it held true again Tuesday during the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference Individual Championships at Berkshire East.
Doyle entered the event as the defending champion but faced stiff competition from Gagne, who had been the top individual during the regular season. Doyle, who also finished second in 2012, said he didn’t feel pressure to defend his title, but just wanted to enjoy the day in what was to be his final PVIAC meet in his senior year.
“It was my last high school race here and I just wanted to enjoy it and have fun with all my friends,” he said.
While Doyle had another banner day at the championships, Gagne remained true to his form, winning both the giant slalom and the slalom on Tuesday to earn the combined victory and the PVIAC crown. Gagne finished the slalom in 32.3 seconds, and raced through the giant slalom in 22.98 seconds for a combined time of 55.28 seconds.
Doyle finished less than one second back with a combined score of 56.06. The Red Hawk skier took fourth in the giant slalom with a time of 23.62, which was the first event of the day for the boys. That set him up well for the combined score, because Doyle needed only a strong finish in the slalom, which is the stronger event of the two for him.
“There wasn’t too much pressure at that point because the slalom is definitely my better event,” Doyle said. “I just skied how I know how to ski.”
That he did, as he finished .14 seconds back of Gagne in the event with a time of 32.44 seconds, placing him second and giving him a combined time of 56.06. That would be good enough for second place overall, which Doyle was proud of.
“I felt good with it,” he explained. “I could have done better on the GS, but I’ll take it.”
Another top contender was Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s John White, who began Tuesday looking like he would make a play for the title, but those hopes were dashed in the slalom event where he suffered a disqualification. White was the second-fastest skier down the hill in the giant slalom with a time of 23.19, but he missed a gate in the slalom and was disqualified from the run, which also disqualified him from the combined score.
White said that he was disappointed on the day, but part of the reason for the disqualification was that he was pushing the limits as he tried to prepare for next week’s state meet.
“I was practicing for states, so I was going all out,” White explained. “I got going a bit faster than I’m used to going and things happen. I’m not going to say that I’m not disappointed, but things could be worse.”
Two other Mohawk skiers placed in the top 10 in combined scores. Luke Looman placed ninth in the slalom at 35.11 seconds and 18th in the giant slalom in 24.63 for a combined score of 59.74, which put him ninth overall. Jameson Rice finished 10th overall in the combined score with a time of 60.64. Rice came in 11th in the slalom in 36.15, and 14th in the giant slalom at 24.49.
Mohawk’s Dan Burke took 12th overall in the combined at 61.37, and teammate Liam Datres de la Blotier finished 14th in 62.01.
The local girls did not fare as well overall. Frontier’s Alli Zera was the top local finisher at 11th overall in the combined with a time of 65.43. Zera earned the only top 10 finish in the girls’ events with her eighth-place time of 36.83 in the slalom. Zera also placed 26th in the giant slalom in 28.6 seconds.
Mohawk’s Erin Laffond came in 19th overall with a time of 70.6 and was the second-best area girl.