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Outdoor Adventures: Flynn sisters take rivalry to the slopes

Sisters Maggie (left) and Caitlin (right) Flynn have a friendly sister rivalry going at Cranmore’s Mountain Meisters.

Keeping up with the fast-flying Flynn sisters isn’t easy.

But on Wednesdays, you’ll find them both in the starting gate at Mountain Meisters at North Conway’s Cranmore for what has in the first half of the popular beer league turned into a sibling rivalry a lifetime in the making.

Four years apart in age, about the only racing against each other they did growing up in Eaton was the occasional NASTAR run.

They took different paths to get there, but the sisters routinely place in the top five with younger energetic Maggie, 21, in her first Meister series finishing narrowly ahead of fiery red-haired older sister Caitlin, 25, each time.

Maggie knew to expect tough competition on the slopes, but skiing against her sister steps things up even more.

“I love having Caitlin on the same team,” she said. “It adds some extra competition. I think our sister Meister rivalry is friendly as long as I beat her, ha-ha. Caitlin is a great ski racer and I know she is right on my tail.”

That she is, creeping up nearly every week to just 0.38 seconds behind in the fourth week.

“Maggie is very worried that I’ll beat her, but I’ve been pretty far off since the season started,” Caitlin said.

Caitlin, an equestrian since childhood who now works at Burnt Meadow Stables in Freedom, started to ski at age 6 at King Pine in East Madison before turning to the Rattlesnake program at Cranmore and the Eastern Slope Ski Club. She switched to cross-country skiing at Kennett High School, even doing some ski jumping and Alpine racing to qualify for state skimeister. Most downhill was freeskiing with friends at Cranmore, where she also worked for some time as mountain adventure supervisor.

In her fourth year, she’s always been in the top female division finishing in the top 10.

Maggie works at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine. She’s also a ski coach for the Cranmore Race Team and middle school students at Tamworth’s Brett School.

She grew up learning to ski at Cranmore and raced for Kennett. She also skied on the Mount Washington Valley Ski Team and while at Colby Sawyer College in New London. Maggie skis in the Attitash Race League in Bartlett on Tuesdays, blazing trails there, too.

“Many of us growing up raced for our schools and weekend teams,” Maggie said. “Unfortunately growing up, Caitlin and I never got to race against each other. She didn’t race with a weekend program and we were too far apart in age to have raced against each other at school.”

Now they do. The sisters generally show up to race around the same time, but haven’t gone head-to-head.

Dad’s there, too. Kevin Flynn is the owner of the Snowvillage Inn in Eaton. But Dad kind of has to be on the hill, since he’s on the same team as his daughters. The sisters also get support from their mom, Barbara, of Chocorua, Flynn’s partner, Jen Kovach, and their boyfriends.

Mom is there to root them on as official coat carrier and cheerleader. She also makes the neck-ups and headbands that keep the two warm.

The two sisters’ times are tight. Maggie rocked the Meister world in race three with a blazing 26.77 to win that week. Maggie’s placed second twice and third twice. Caitlin tends to finish fourth, with one fifth.

“The times are always close,” Maggie said. “You really need to be on your ‘A’ game.”

It wouldn’t be fair to ask a parent to choose a favorite in something like this. Instead, it’s more fitting to ask both sisters.

“I’d like to think that I’m a better skier, but I know Caitlin can ski just as well,” Maggie said. “It’s been really fun to see how the season is unfolding. I’m looking forward to the rest of the races during the season and I know I need to work hard to stay on top.”

Caitlin praises her younger sister’s Alpine skills, but does so, well, in a big sister way.

“I will say I’m a better skier without gates and Maggie is a better racer,” Caitlin said. “She’ll bring home a mug this year which I will later steal.”

Bet she’s fast at doing that, too.

(Marty Basch can be reached through onetankaway.com.)

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