NYSEF is proud to recognize exemplary athletes for their achievements on and off the hill through the new Athlete of the Month program.
Athletes throughout the club will be highlighted for their accomplishments including community service, sportsmanship, academic & extracurricular achievement and athletic performance.
December Athlete of the Month: Andrew Scanio
Our December Athlete of the Month is Andrew Scanio. Andrew is a 15 year - old biathlon and cross country athlete from Lake Placid, and currently attends Lake Placid High School. Andrew learned to ski at 4 years old and started with NYSEF at age 8. Like many local outdoor enthusiasts, Andrew had the opportunity to enjoy both alpine and nordic skiing. “While I enjoyed both sports, I developed a stronger connection with cross country, so I decided to switch to that full-time,” says Andrew.
Andrew recently took top U16 in the first events of the season, the Harry Eldridge classic and freestyle races held on January 9 and 10 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Andrew acknowledges there was plenty of excitement surrounding the first races held at the brand new venue, which was built to meet World Cup standards over the past year. He felt well prepared for the challenging course as the NYSEF team has been able to train consistently on the new trails since mid-November.
“Having the new venue and its new snowmaking capabilities have been a complete game changer for our program,” said Biathlon and Cross Country Head Coach, Shane MacDowell. “Andrew has taken full advantage of everything the program and venue have to offer by showing up every day ready to work hard and achieve his goals.”
When asked about Andrew’s short and long term goals, he noted, “my short term goal is to finish the season strong and stay healthy. In the future, I would love to ski in college.” Although the current pandemic has introduced many challenges for competitive athletes like Andrew, he continues to stay focused on his academics and athletics. “It can be challenging balancing school and sport, but I usually try to do as much work as I can during the study halls scattered throughout my school day and then head over to Mt. Van Hoevenberg for ski practice. NYSEF keeps me busy and these days I appreciate the social aspect of the program even more,” he said.
“It has been such a pleasure to watch Andrew mature as an athlete,” writes Cross Country Assistant Coach, Julianne Stemp. “Andrew has taken real ownership of his skiing-- he has recognized that much of an athletes success in nordic skiing is determined through their summer training, and his hard efforts throughout the summer have produced results which he is excited about this year.”
Andrew’s role models in the sport are Scott Schulz and Van Ledger. “They’re both excellent skiers who graduated from Lake Placid High School,” he says.
In his free time, Andrew enjoys performing in theater, playing the trombone, and spending time outdoors with family. Congratulations, Andrew!
March Athlete of the Month: Jake Reynolds
NYSEF Athlete of the Month is 19-year-old Post Graduate (PG) Jake Reynolds. Jake, a Northwood School and NYSEF Winter Term alum, has been alpine skiing at Whiteface since he was 2. His father, John and the rest of the Reynolds family have been a part of the ski racing world for generations. “I come from a family enamored with skiing, so I get to see many of the people I look up to every day,” Jake says. Being around Whiteface for most of his life, Jake appreciates the hard work that goes into making the training so successful every season. “I know the whole PG team appreciates the daily effort from NYSEF staff to prep the race hill and supply the best surface for us,” he noted.
Since joining the NYSEF PG Program, “I’ve had the chance to race in series such as Nor-Am Cups...these races have given me the opportunity to compete against top tier athletes,” Reynolds says. On the subject of motivation, Jake notes “I set a goal that was very meaningful for me. My goal is to ski Division I, and I want to be among the best there. Between NYSEF’s venues and their coaching staff, this program was going to give me the best chance of accomplishing that.” Men’s Head FIS Coach Thomas Vonn said, “Jake had a great season and continues to improve at an impressive rate. This past season Jake scored multiple personal bests and was a regular on the podium in many of the FIS races he entered, including grabbing a FIS Eastern Cup win and scoring his first NorAm points.”
Coaches like Vonn and Assistant Coach Alex Shearer teach Jake and his teammates how to take care of their bodies through conditioning and proper nutrition, as well as how to maintain their race equipment so each can perform at the highest level. As far as training and improvements this season, Jake commented, “ we regularly have the ability to train Super G. Even for athletes like me who want to ski in college where Super-G is not raced, training speed has shown to improve the tech performance of our whole team.”
Jake’s main goal is to ski Division I at an NCAA college or university in the upcoming seasons. Coach Vonn added, ”In the past year and half Jake has gone from being a motivated kid that no one had heard of-- not being on anyone’s national or collegiate radar-- to becoming one of the top juniors in the country, and being sought after by D I schools. I have no doubt Jake will continue to improve. He has the ability and drive to reach any goal he sets his mind to.”
In the off-season, Jake plans to “do plyometric, cardio, and resistance training to maintain my physical conditioning.” When not focusing on skiing, he enjoys fishing and playing tennis.
February Athlete of the Month: Elise Loescher
February Athlete of the Month, Elise Loescher is a 17-year old, ski jumping athlete from Burlington, V.T. and a junior at Northwood School. Elise started ski jumping with NYSEF 4 years ago but has been alpine skiing since she was 2-years old. Since the first time she launched off a ski jump, Elise loved the feeling of flying through the air. What motivates her to stay in the sport is “that unique feeling of flying through the air, the people that I have met and the places I have been able to travel.”
When asked if she had any role models in the sport, she answered, her coach, Colin Delaney and the current women competing in the sport. “Colin is so knowledgeable in the sport and remains humble in everything he does. Another role model are all the strong and talented women who have pushed for equality in the sport.” Some of Elise’s long term goals are to stay healthy, compete internationally, and be a good example to the younger athletes while educating the public about the sport.
When discussing her season, Head Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Coach, Colin Delaney said, “she has had her best winter to date with her best US Cup results competing in Colorado and across the Midwest.”
Currently, Elise is working on listening to her body and being in tune to any potential pain, especially in her back. “My coaches have taught me to become aware of my back pain and they have helped me strengthen it and be aware when I need to take a break to stay healthy,” Elise said.
Elise hopes to train throughout the summer and be consistent with her jumping. “I’m hoping this summer Elise will get the chance to compete at her first FIS level events in Europe in August. She will have the opportunity to meet more athletes from other countries and experience new venues around the world,” Coach Delaney added.
Additionally, this upcoming summer Elise wants “to focus on the mental side of the sport, being in the right mindset can give you an edge on the other competitors.”
In her free time, Elise loves to visit family and friends, go rock climbing and play lacrosse. Congrats on your season!
January Athlete of the Month: Grant Pedersen
Grant Pedersen is a 15-year old snowboard athlete from Mount Olive, N.J. and is a sophomore at Mount Olive High School. Grant has participated in the NYSEF-Belleayre program for the last two seasons and competes in boarder cross, snowboard GS/SL, slopestyle and rail jam. According to his coaches, he improved his snowboarding considerably this season and always shows up to training with a great attitude. “Grant encompasses everything NYSEF and strives to teach and encourage each athlete to be the best version of themselves,” writes Belleayre Snowboarding Coach Carlie Capela. “Grant takes the time to be a true team player—cheering everyone on at a competition. The way he treats people is inspiring. He’s just a great role model for his younger teammates.”
As Grant improved in the sport, he also focused on having fun—a decision which saw him become even more of a positive influence on his teammates. “Although there may be a few hiccups during training, I always remind myself to have fun— maybe to step away from a trick I am having trouble with and return to it later,” adds Grant. His coaches attest to his growth as an athlete and eagerness to learn about the sport. “Not only is Grant striving to learn by asking questions, he takes what he learns to perfect his overall technique” said Coach Carlie. This season, Grant is working on setting up for the rails correctly and going off the lip of the jump to get more air.
Some of Grant’s goals this season are to make the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) Nationals and progress in the sport. When asked what he does to prepare for a competition, Grant said, “I visualize the course, rail or trick and listen to music to get pumped up and remind myself to have fun.”
What Grant enjoys most about the freeride program at Belleayre is seeing his friends and enjoying the camaraderie within the program.
When he is not snowboarding, Grant plays lacrosse and helps his dad in the garage working on motorcycles and cars.
CONGRATS, GRANT AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE REST OF YOUR SEASON!
December Athlete of the Month: Andrew Van Slyke
Andrew Van Slyke is an 18-year old alpine athlete from Lake Placid, NY and a senior at Northwood School. Alpine skiing has been a part of Andrew’s life since he could walk, having been brought into the sport by his parents, Paul and Ingrid.
After growing 6 inches over the last 2 years, Andrew has made considerable improvements to his skiing technique. In order to become more stable on his skis, Andrew undertook an enhanced training and conditioning program to adjust to his new balance point. With the addition of coaches like Thomas Vonn, Head Men’s FIS Coach/Technical Director at NYSEF and Northwood School, Andrew was motivated to work even harder because he saw the investment and involvement his coaches put forth towards making him into a better athlete. “Coach Vonn’s willingness to help and his positive outlook on how to transfer training skills to race day simply made me work even harder,” says Andrew. Coach Vonn quickly noticed the improvement in Andrew’s skiing. “I would certainly put him in the category of most improved. Andrew’s season is just beginning and with the work he has put in– the results will come,” says Vonn. Alex Shearer, Assistant U19 Men’s Coach said, “Andrew has improved drastically over the last year. He’s committed to performing at the highest level.”
In addition to the coaching staff, Andrew mentioned his teammates as a major motivating factor. “We are good friends who just push each other to get faster every day,” he says.
When asked about goals for the year, Andrew noted, “I would like to lower my points in GS and SL and qualify for Junior Nationals and, if possible, US Nationals.” Moving forward, he plans to continue to train hard and work on skiing the steeper pitches in slalom even smoother and faster. In his off season, Andrew maintains and repairs boats at a marina on Big Moose Lake.
Next up for Andrew are speed events in Sugarloaf, Maine.
CONGRATULATIONS ANDREW AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE REST OF YOUR SEASON!
March Athlete of the Month: Marli Damp
Our March Athlete of the Month is Marli Damp. Marli is a 15-year old cross country skier from Lake Placid, N.Y. In addition to training for cross country skiing year-round, Marli is also competing on the Lake Placid High School track team this spring.
Like most athletes, Marli has a pre-race routine: “I put glitter on my face and wear my hair in pigtails.” Marli looks up to Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins, who makes the sport fun and playful.
Marli’s goal for this season was to make top 20 at Junior Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska. Throughout the season, Marli had credible finishes and was one of the top U16s going into Nationals.
Although Marli had great results all season, she had difficulty overcoming obstacles at Nationals. “I sometimes overthink on race day and by doing so it takes away energy that I can be using in the race.” Marli has started to talk more with her coaches and peers in an effort to calm her tension before race events. She also has begun practicing yoga!
Although Marli’s end of season goal was not met, she is “motivated by the bad races and will not lose my work ethic…I am looking forward to training harder.” In regards to Marli’s work ethic, Head NYSEF Cross-Country Ski Coach, Shane MacDowell said, “Marli is self-aware of her obstacles and is committed to overcoming them.” Shane added, “Marli likes to be pushed and knows where she can improve in training and on race day…I am looking forward to witness her growth as an athlete.”
Marli is thrilled to move up to the U18 group next season because she “likes distance events and U18s race 10K’s versus 5K’s.” She is also excited for summer training because it is the “hardest training we (NYSEF) do all year…it gets us ready for the winter season.”
In her free time, Marli likes to water ski, run and write poetry!
February Athlete of the Month: Shane Bittinger
February Athlete of the Month is Shane Bittinger, a 16-year old, alpine skier from Monticello, N.Y. Shane began racing with the NYSEF-Belleayre program this year. Shane decided to move to the Belleayre program because of the competitive training opportunities NYSEF offers to their athletes and terrain at Belleayre Mountain.
“Determined, balanced and respectful are words that can describe Shane,” Program Director of NYSEF-Belleayre, Jim Catalano. Shane races for both US Ski and Snowboard (USSA) and High School which creates a demanding athletic schedule. Jim commented, “Shane has executed a solid season while balancing USSA racing, High School racing and managing his academics at a high level.”
As a U19, Shane is determined to “focus on this year and lower his points at the next race event.” He had the opportunity to travel and visit a variety of mountains while meeting new athletes. “Being a part of USSA has allowed me to compete with all levels across New York State,” Shane said.
When asked about recent obstacles in the sport, Shane said, “my skis at U19 Finals.” It is important to have valuable training time on skis before race day. Shane was unable to train on his new 165 cm slalom (SL) skis and had difficulty in the SL event—his best (and favorite) event during U19 Championships at Gore Mountain in March.
Shane’s goals for next season is for early training at Copper Mountain with NYSEF. In the summer, Shane water skis and rides dirt bikes!
January Athlete of the Month: Robbie Sinclair
January Athlete of the Month is Robbie Sinclair, a 14-year old, snowboarder from Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Robbie’s favorite events are boarder cross and slopestyle and competes with the youth men in the 14-15 year age circuit.
Although Robbie was born in South Dakota, as soon as his family moved to the Adirondacks, Robbie started riding in the backyard with his dad. Robbie transitioned to ride at Pisgah Mountain and finally ride and train with NYSEF at Whiteface. Robbie loves to participate in NYSEF because of its mission and the coaches. “My coach (Head Snowboard Coach, Bob Witt) makes daily training fun while also being serious… it helps me develop as an athlete and continue with the sport,” Robbie mentioned. “Bob and all the freeride coaches, manage to be playful while accomplishing our goals for the day.”
Freeride Program Director, Mike Kirchner commented, "Robbie shows great athletic performances and has been the most improved this season…he is a great role model for his peers and other youth athletes." Robbie practices with his younger sister, Alexis, an 11-year old skicross athlete. The innocent sibling rivalry in the cross course makes it enjoyable.
When asked about obstacles, Robbie answered, “the lack of competition and how small the field is in New York State.” In an effort, to compete with the best, Robbie has the opportunity to compete in Vermont and at USASA Nationals in Copper Mountain in April. In the off season, Robbie loves to swim and wake board on the lake.
CONGRATS, ROBBIE AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE REST OF THE SEASON!
December Athlete of the Month: Rowen Norfolk
December Athlete of the Month, Rowen Norfolk is a 14-year-old, U16 alpine athlete from Lake Placid, N.Y. and a freshman at Northwood School. Rowen started skiing for NYSEF at age 8 and enjoys going to training because of the friendships he has made in the sport. Since beginning with NYSEF, Rowen has pushed himself to compete at the highest level. Head U16 Coach, Patrick Purcell added, “Rowen’s love for competition sets the bar high for our U16 team.” Even after a season ending injury last year, Rowen was eager to put in the work for a comeback to ski racing.
Rowen suffered an injury in February of 2018, soon before the NY State Championships. Despite the obstacle, Rowen has showed “outstanding results in the toughest conditions…something someone would be hesitant about coming back into the sport of ski racing,” U16 Coach, Pieter van Ingen added. Pieter and the other coaches continue to be impressed with Rowen’s comeback.
When asked about struggles this season, Rowen answered, “the logistics like remembering to dry out my clothing or boot liners.” Like most high school athletes in a sport like ski racing, independence is a crucial ingredient for success. As a freshman, Rowen looks to refine the process of planning and learn from other seasoned athletes. Rowen’s goals this season is to “make it to U16 Nationals and race against ski with the best in the country.”
Although Rowen is modest about his accomplishments, he boasts about his brother, Lincoln, age 12 and sister, Cecila, age 8. Both are going to be Lake Placid’s next skiing superstars.
CONGRATS, ROWEN AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE REST OF THE SEASON!
March Athlete of the Month: Norah Dempsey
March Athlete of the Month is Norah Dempsey, a 14 year old, U16 alpine athlete from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Norah raced at Gore Mountain (in North Creek) and since become a part of NYSEF’s Winter Term Program. Winter Term allowed Norah to train throughout the winter while getting one-on-one tutoring to keep up with her curriculum from Saratoga Springs High School. In Winter Term, “we got so much time on snow, with excellent coaching. I loved being in an environment where I could focus on my skiing while keeping up and having plenty of support in school,” Norah mentioned.
When asked about goals for this season, Norah said, “to ski consistently fast throughout the whole year, without losing steam at the end.” Although competitive snowsports typically last four months, it is important to continue momentum into the spring especially for athletes like Norah who qualify for special competitions.
Hear what Norah’s coaches are saying:
- Head U16 Coach, Patrick Purcell commented, “Norah works hard, seriously hard and has an absolute love for what she does in the sport.”
Assistant U16 Coach, Pieter van Ingen added, “Norah is willing to change her skiing and try new drills in order to become a better racer…something not many competitive athletes are willing to do.”
- Coach Patrick Purcell said, “Norah is one of the most coach-able athletes and 100% behind her teammates.”
Since ski racing is an individual support, athletes have to be supportive of their peers in a competitive environment. Norah added, “we choose to support each other instead of being on a team and told to support each other…I am grateful to have a group of such amazing friends for teammates.”
Norah ended the season racing against the top athletes in the country at U16 Junior Nationals in Washington. Norah goals for next season are to improve her slalom skiing to the level of her Giant Slalom (GS) and Super G. As for now, Norah is excited to start biking and running. CONGRATS ON A GREAT SEASON, NORAH!
February Athlete of the Month: Tate Frantz
NYSEF February Athlete of the Month is Tate Frantz of Lake Placid. Tate is a 12 year old ski jumper and Nordic combined athlete who attends Lake Placid Central School. Tate started jumping “at 8 years old with NYSEF and was motivated to get involved after my older brother, Kai, began jumping.” Tate recently won the U16 Ski Jumping National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska (at age 12)! Also in Alaska, Tate competed in the team jumping competition which was “a cool event to work together with other Eastern athletes.” Tate and his team won the U16 Team Jumping Competition.
Tate’s coach, Colin Delaney said, “Tate is extremely coachable and always thinking of ways of going outside the box in training.” Colin added, “the fear of jumping can be an obstacle…Tate got over this fear earlier than his peers and continues to build confidence while making positive improvements.”
Some of Tate’s rituals before major competitions are “wearing the same under suit and socks and trying to have peanut butter.” Tate is eager to “finish off the season strong and have fun.”
In the off season, Tate mountain bikes, bakes cookies, runs and plays soccer. Way to go, Tate!
January Athlete of the Month: Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson is a U18 Cross-Country (XC) ski athlete from Keene, N.Y. Unlike many of the XC Junior athletes, Joseph began skiing with NYSEF two years ago in the summer of 2016. “I started skiing one a day a week working with the Saranac Lake modified team and joined NYSEF for more in depth training,” Joseph said.
Since Joseph’s time skiing competitively, he has made Junior Nationals and had a few podiums in several race events. When asked why the urge to join a XC ski program in high school, Joseph answered, “I appreciate how cardiovascular demanding the sport is, enjoy the community and most importantly, the camaraderie of having everyday training partners, my teammates.”
Head Coach, Shane MacDowell, said “Joseph takes a skill and applies it during training and in the race.” Shane has seen Joseph’s progress and his attention to focus on technique to strengthen himself as a racer. “Joseph has a great engine and is getting faster because he works hard,” Shane concluded.
Some of Joseph’s goals are to make Top 30 in Classic race at Junior Nationals and to eventually ski in college. When asked if Joseph has any pre-routine or ritual before a race, he mentioned, “I always have a peanut butter and banana sandwich and get to the race early for warm up.” As long as there is peanut butter and banana available for Junior Nationals, we expect to see success for Joseph. Way to go, Joseph, and good luck this season!
December Athlete of the Month: Brady Mason
Brady Mason is a first year U16 alpine skiing athlete from Silver Spring, Maryland. Although Brady’s home ski area is Roundtop Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania, he had the opportunity to train with NYSEF in the December Winter Term program. December term trained in Copper, Colorado and at Whiteface Mountain. “Coming from a small mountain to being able to train two weeks in Copper Mountain to being surrounded by Olympic athletes made me feel like I was living the lifestyle of a true athlete…I had to make sure my hard work on and off the snow showed that,” Brady commented. Winter Term Program Director, Beatty Schlueter said, “Brady gave 100% on the hill and in the classroom, his attention to detail in the sport and in his studies made him a great role model for other student-athletes…we would be excited to have him a part of our Winter Term next season.”
While Brady was training with NYSEF he worked with Head U16 Alpine Coach, Patrick Purcell. “Brady was eager to understand the skills and fundamentals of skiing which translated well once he got into training gates,” Coach Purcell said. Brady knows he still has skills to work on and was able to develop consistency with his training throughout the month of December and into the season. “I am a very technical skier and like to know exactly what I need to do in order to be better and to be faster,” Brady said.
Brady’s goals for the season are to be a top first year U16, be a top competitor as Eastern Finals in Stowe, Vermont and continue to work on his Giant Slalom. When Brady is not on snow, he trades his poles and skis in for a Lacrosse stick and travels competitively.
March Athlete of the Month: Emma Lauria
Emma is currently enjoying what she feels is one of her strongest seasons to date. She has placed top-10 in singles and top-8 in dual mogul events on the regional circuit all winter. For the second year in a row, she has qualified to take part in both the Junior National Championships and US National Championships.
“What makes Emma a great athlete is her competitive drive,” writes NYSEF Mogul Coach Nick Arnold. “When she does well, she looks to do even better. When she doesn’t perform her best, she looks for ways to improve. Emma has also been set back by several injuries this season, the latest being a broken bone in her hand. Despite these hurdles, Emma has demonstrated time and again her dedication towards achieving her goals.”
Lauria’s proudest accomplishment this season was qualifying for two FIS North American Cups, at Killington, VT and Val St. Come, Quebec, Canada. “This was really special for me because these events feature skiers from around the world,” reports Lauria.
A third-year student in the NYSEF Winter Term program, Emma has become adept at balancing a busy travel schedule with her one-on-one tutorials with Winter Term tutors. While she acknowledges that challenging courses combined with weeks away from school at a time isn’t always the easiest way to learn, she’s picked up some valuable study skills along the way. “Emma is highly proactive about her schoolwork,” reports Winter Term Program Director Dave McCahill. “She’s organized, methodical, and seeks out assistance when she needs it. She’s learning skills that will serve her well through college and beyond.”
Coach Arnold also notes Emma’s positivity and contribution to the team atmosphere. “Emma is a really supportive teammate. When one of her teammates is in the gate, Emma is always there to support them and cheer them on.”
When there’s no snow on the ground, Emma competes for two softball teams. She also helps her dad with the local Booster Club to help raise money for their school and local sports teams.
Looking forward, Emma departs on Tuesday for the US National Championships, held in Steamboat Springs, CO. She’s hoping for a top-25 finish there, and aims to qualify for all four North American Cup events next year.
Congratulations Emma, and best of luck this season!