NYSEF athletes, Norah Dempsey, Jaden Klebba, Avery Waters went to U16 Nationals in Breckenridge, Colorado this season to compete with the best in the country. Get to know these athletes as they discuss season goals, obstacles and fun rituals they do in the start gate. Share similar goals? Share them!
Norah Dempsey, 15, Saratoga Springs, NY/ NYSEF Winter Term
Jaden Klebba, 15, Rockaway, NJ, Northwood School/NYSEF
Avery Waters, 15, Saratoga Springs, NY/ NYSEF Winter Term
When did you begin with NYSEF/How did you learn about NYSEF:
Dempsey: I learned about NYSEF through my older brother who started the program a year before me and began at Gore Mountain as a U10 athlete.
Klebba: My family skied at Whiteface for the longest time and was curious about the building out front. First my brothers tried the program and shortly after my parents enrolled me the program. I began with NYSEF at Whiteface when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
Waters: My dad is an alumni of the NYSEF programs and I was a U10 athlete at Gore Mountain.
What are your goals for this spring/summer?
Dempsey: My goals are to decompress and enjoy myself while training hard and preparing mentally and physically for next season. For the 2019/2020 season, I am excited to work on strategies to find the finish line while still having a performance I can be proud of.
Klebba: My goals for the spring and summer are primarily to learn more about the mental part of sports and push my limits in workouts. For the 2019/2020 snowsport season, I aspire to work on my mental and physical endurance. I also hope to get comfortable with the uncomfortable such as high speeds. Lastly, an overall goal would be to raise the intensity in training and to work on confidence.
Waters: My goals for this off season is to jump into school and club lacrosse and enjoy some time to unwind off snow. I think my biggest goal for next year and one I began to work on this year is aggression. For the 2019/2020 season, I want to be able to attack the course in an effort to find the finish line faster.
What results are you most proud of this season?
Dempsey: Either going from bib 58 to 8th place in the Eastern Championship Slalom at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, or placing 18th in the U16 Nationals Super G in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Klebba: I don’t have a most proud result but I was most proud of my skiing during the Empire State Winter Games.
Waters: I am most proud of getting 4th place in the Super G at U16 Eastern Championships at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine and being able to compete in U16 Nationals in Colorado.
What are your current obstacles in the sport?
Dempsey: This year I have had difficulty finishing my races, which has gotten very frustrating at times. I’ve been working on overcoming this by letting go of that frustration when needed and being deliberate in fixing aspects of my technique to improve in this area.
Klebba: A current obstacle I am facing is enduring the long season and battling fatigue. Another obstacle is my lack in confidence at higher levels of racing. To overcome this, I hope to read a couple pf books on the mental aspect of sports and to talk to my coaches more about how I’m feeling. Lastly, more experience (such as the opportunity to race at U16 Nationals) and more positive reinforcement will help me overcome these obstacles.
Waters: Currently, my biggest struggle is consistency. This is one thing I that I would like to work on in all disciplines (Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G). I try and keep a positive attitude in training and that’s where my grit and improvement comes from.
What do you think about before your run or in the start gate?
Dempsey: Right before getting in the gate I usually clear my mind by admiring the view and focusing on my breathing.
Klebba: Before I get into the start gate, I review the course in my head. I also like to get my heart rate up by doing a full-body warmup. A week to a day before a race, (depending on the importance of the race), I’ll write down my goals for the race.
Waters: I like to make sure I take my time during inspection and I always try to envision myself running the course before getting into the gate…and the left boot always goes on first.
What made you continue in snowsports?
Dempsey: My love for the sport plays a huge role in my commitment to it, and being outside every day in variable conditions means I never get tired of it.
Klebba: Coming from an old iron ore town in New Jersey, alpine skiing gave me a new perspective. Alpine skiing specifically in the Adirondacks made me realize my interest in nature, especially the snow-capped pine trees. Additionally, I had a great group of girls to free ski with around the mountain. Growing up with a close knit group that consisted of 6 or 7 girls that all shared an interest in the sport taught me how friendship really should be. Besides the aspects that come with skiing like beautiful scenery or the joy of making new friends, ski racing brought me to a new aspect of life that consisted of raw passion and determination. The overall feeling of the sport, ups and downs included, is what has kept me in the sport for so long. Lastly, being able to work on a sport and see progress is joyful in itself.
Waters: Being able to stay in this sport has opened so many different opportunities for me to take advantage of. Yes, it is a very taxing sport not only on you physically, but also mentally so by surrounding yourself with a great group of friends and coaches always makes the hard work enjoyable.
How do you balance academics, athletics and social time?
Dempsey: Having a close group of friends with similar priorities incorporates my social life into my athletics for the most part, and having extremely supportive adults in my life helps me continue to make advances in my academics. An experience like this would never be possible without the support and flexibility the Saratoga school system offers too.
Klebba: Balancing academics, athletics and social time is something that comes with the help of the Northwood school structure. Sometimes you don’t have much time to socialize but you don’t notice while being distracted by your load of school and skiing.
Waters: Balancing all three aspects is difficult, but they are all priorities for me. Being able to do the sport I love makes it come easier because I’m more focused and determined.