By Roger Amsden, The Laconia Daily Sun
LACONIA — Thomas Turpin has been skiing since he was 2 years old old but says he never thought that it would turn out to be his top sport.
“Skiing is all about having a good time. And that’s what I do when I’m on the ski slopes,” says Turpin, a Laconia High School senior who two weeks ago won his second straight Division III individual championship with victories in both the slalom and giant slalom at Mount Sunapee.
An all-around athlete who has been captain of the Laconia High School soccer team for the last two years, earning All-State honors as midfielder twice, Turpin also plays baseball for the Sachems, primarily as second baseman and shortstop.
But it is when he’s skiing that he feels like he’s at the top of his game and doing what he likes best.
“I’ve always liked the slalom,” says Turpin, who says that he has music from the 1980s playing through his mind when he’s waiting at the starting gate before heading down the hill.
He said that it’s a thrill to be skiing fast and then controlling his body so that he can make the turns around the slalom gates without losing speed.
He says that he learned that competitive skiing should be fun when he was only eight or nine years old from his Gunstock Ski Club coach Dan Wheeler, who always emphasized enjoyment of the sport.
“He always said that if you’re not having fun then this isn’t the sport for you,” says Turpin.
He said that at one time he considered going to a prep school which emphasized skiing but decided to stay at Laconia High School for what he considered to be a broader educational experience.
And he says that he owes his chance to compete in skiing at Laconia High School to his mother, Liz Nixon, who stepped up to the challenge of finding support for high school skiing after LHS dropped its ski program two years ago.
“We had no money and no coach but she and Kim Weeks were able to put together funding so we could travel to meets.
He credits Allan Bishop, head coach of the Gunstock Ski Club in the u16-u21 group, for helping him to develop into a good all-around skier.
“He’s pretty tough on us but really helps us improve,” says Turpin.
Bishop says that he enjoys working with Turpin and says that he admires the way Turpin put in extra time this year in order to get even better.
Turpin says there are only four skiers on the LHS team, just enough to enable them to qualify in meets. The girls’ team has only three skiers and can’t qualify for team honors.
His strong performance at Sunapee put Laconia in third place with 702 points. Bow was first with 744 and Belmont second with 717.
Turpin will race Thursday in the Meet of Champions at the Mittersill Ski Area, which is located next to Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch. The event brings together a dozen of the top skiers from all four high school divisions in giant slalom and slalom races.
Turpin says that he would like to continue skiing when he attends college next year. He is looking at Clarkson University in upstate New York as well as the University of Vermont and the University of New Hampshire.
He says that Clarkson is a Division III school and he might compete on its ski team. Both UVM and UNH are Division I schools in skiing and Turpin said he would most likely take part in club skiing rather than on their ski teams.
He says that he is looking at a future as a civil engineer and is taking AP calculus as a senior in order to prepare for that career.
He says that his father is an architect but that he is looking for something that is a little more hands on for himself.
Math is his favorite subject in high school and old school 1980s music is his favorite, although he also likes some of the newer sounds as well as hip hop.
Laconia High School Senior Thomas Turpin won his second straight Division III individual skiing championship and will compete in the Meet of Champions Thursday at Mittersill Ski Area in Franconia. (Courtesy Photo)
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