When it comes to Nordic skiing, champions are made in the summer.
That's certainly where Will Kirby's All-Eagle Most Valuable Player season began.
"My personal view, that the coaches support, is that over the summer it's important to get in good volume and build up the aerobic base," the Mount Greylock senior said. "That way you can do more race-specific intervals when you get into the season.
"During the summer, you build the blade of a knife. During the season, you sharpen it."
Kirby was sharp all season long, battling back and forth with teammate Alex White before edging him in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Nordic championship at Notchview Reservation. He finished fourth to go along with two victories in four regular-season races, earning the MVP nod over White.
White had two wins in the regular season, too, and Kirby said the results easily could've fallen in his teammates' favor. They were that close.
"Every time we went out on the course, we really battled it out," White said. "Going into it we didn't know who was going to win. Knowing he was out there pushed me personally to really go for it all in every race."
Kirby said White had outsprinted him at the finish in recent years. In the offseason, Kirby put a new emphasis on strength conditioning to build up that finish-line sprint. He felt the difference right away.
"In the first race I noticed I had a really strong finish which, honestly, was a kind of a new experience for me," Kirby said. "I felt like it kicked in early, which was nice."
Kirby won that first race before trailing behind White in the next two. He took what became the regular season's final race due to poor weather before finishing three spots ahead of White in Windsor on Feb. 12. Those two finishes helped the Mounties to another state championship.
Kirby is headed to Williams College next year. While he won't ski for the Ephs, he does plan to run in college. White -- who hasn't picked a college yet -- said Kirby's seamless transition from one endurance sport to the other makes him a threat any time he races, no matter the season.
"I think he's in incredible shape," White said. "He runs and does track so all year round he's an endurance athlete. He has a motor that not all of us have."