By Shane Wilson
CAMDEN — Tommy Bancroft of the Oxford Hills Middle School ski team would overcome adversity and injury to become the 2016 Maine Junior Ski Leagues (MJSL) skimeister.
The skimeister is awarded to the top skier who competes in all four of the events that comprise the MJSL Class A State Championships.
The four events were held over two days, with the Alpine Slalom and the Nordic 3K Freestyle events being held on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Camden Snow Bowl.
The final two events, the Alpine Giant Slalom and the Nordic Classical, were held on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Black Mountain in Rumford.
At Camden, Bancroft would finish fourth in the first event of the series, the Alpine Slalom, only to come back just a few hours later and win the Nordic 3K Freestyle.
The strong fourth-place finish combined with the freestyle victory would make Bancroft an early favorite in the skimeister standings.
Bancroft was “most nervous during the downhill slalom events due to the increased potential to fall or get disqualified.”
Just three days later at Black Mountain during the third event of the series, those fears nearly became reality.
During his second run on the Alpine Giant Slalom, Bancroft would start to fall in one of the turns.
“I put my hand down hard to catch myself … it was solid ice,” Bancroft said. He would stay up and finish third in the event.
“We had the clinic check out his hand in between events,” Bancroft’s father, Mark, said. “There appeared to be a possible break around his knuckles. … We decided to wrap it up and let him test it to see if he could go.”
Bancroft felt confident even with the possible broken hand going into the last event.
“I had won the first Nordic event by a wide margin over the same group [of competitors],” he said.
Bancroft would win the final event and accumulate nine total points to win the skimeister award.
His mother, Angela, expressed “how amazing it was to watch her child put the pain out of his mind as he would make a strong push to the finish,” in the final stretch of the classic event.
Other members of the Oxford Hills team would also represent their school well as Colby Van Decker and Jacob Mills, along with Bancroft, would all finish in the top 10 in state championship events.