Ski races are often decided by hundredths of a second. Sometimes even that isn’t enough to separate skiers.
Because their performances were so close, Horace Greeley junior Cami Friendlaender and Mamaroneck sophomore Ellie Lundberg share this year’s Journal News Westchester/Putnam skier of the year honor.
Friedlaender finished second by .13 of a second in the Section 1 championship skimeister competition (times of two slalom and two giant slalom runs added together) to Clarkstown’s Martyna Czarnik.
Friedlaender’s combined slalom and giant slalom times edged the third-place Lundberg by .77 of a second.
The three qualified for the State Championships but days before that event, Friedlaender suffered a concussion and had to scratch. Lundberg, meanwhile, had a strong showing, finishing 13th in the slalom and 16th GS out of more than 60 skiers.:
Cami Friedlaender remembers at least some things about her last ski run of the season.
She was training at her home mountain, Gore, in February for the state high school championships. It had rained. Then the course froze.
“I must have caught an edge,” she said.
She hit the back of her head, as her helmet, as designed, cracked to modify the impact.
“The first thing I asked is would I be able to go to States. Sectionals made me feel like I’d do real well at States. I had high expectations for myself,” she said.
But there were no States. The concussion, worse than her first, which she suffered during the preseason, kept her out of school for a week and forced her to miss a month of practice for softball. That’s her other sport. She plays second base. But the 16-year-old’s first love is skiing.
She has skied since she was 2 and has been on the Gore ski team since second grade.
Skiing is a family sport with older brothers Max, 21, and Travis, 19, once also skied for Gore and her mother and father, Bob and Diane, are recreational skiers.
It’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive one way to Gore but the trip has proven well worth it. Friedlaender’s skiing continues to improve through her hours on the slopes there.
“Mostly I just do it for fun. I enjoy the competition and seeing all my friends,” she said, although, adding, “I like to compete. I’ve very competitive.”
“I’m on a personal level with my coaches there. We get a lot done. The ski team here, we practice once a week if it’s a good week.”
Of course, this year was rough. Between scheduling problems and a lack of snow, no teams had a lot of hill time.
But Friedlaender was in shape. She gave up soccer to focus on weight training designed to make her stronger for skiing and in the off-season she also receives workout plans from her Gore coaches.
But just as important as physical strength is her mental approach.
“At the top it’s just you and the course. It takes a lot of mental strength not to psyche yourself out and freak out about what could go wrong,” said Friedlaender.
Two concussions later, that could prove harder next season but she said, “As of now, I’m 100 percent going to be back and racing next year.”
And she doesn’t plan to hold back.
The girl who posted the third fastest giant slalom run at Sectionals among not only more than 60 girls but more than 60 boys, said, “Definitely, my number one goal is skimeister.”
If Ellie Lundberg had a do-over button she’d push it.
Yes, she finished third at the Section 1 ski championships.
Yes, she was very strong at States.
And, yes, she’s just a 15-year-old sophomore.
And, moreover, yes, she’s been ski racing just four years.
But Lundberg believes she could have won the Section 1 championship had she kept her foot on the pedal just a little bit more after her first slalom run.
That run, with a 31.80-second clocking, was the fastest girls’ time of the day. But, eyeing a berth at States, she turned conservative her second run. That kept her upright but also cost her time.
“I was so happy to make States,” she explained.
But with that first run, “I got a glimpse of what I could do,” said Lundberg.
And that’s an awful lot, especially considering her short racing resume.
Her home mountain is Jiminy Peak.
Four years ago she started racing and, by her account, she was “terrible, terrible” her first two years.
But something kicked in after that. She found herself reading skiing magazines, watching skiing videos and believing skiing was “something I think I can really make work.”
“In a way, I think I’m addicted,” said Lundberg, who calls skiing a “blast.”
Despite her fine finishes this year, she’s no speed freak, explaining, “I like speed when I’m in control. … But I don’t like the feeling of being too far off the edge.”
In fact, she has never fallen in a high school race, which is extremely unusual for a top racer.
“I really should try to push it more,” she said.
But it’s not like she has never made unplanned contact with the ground.
Lundberg laughed about being the subject of a “legendary Instagram” that received a lot of likes after she received a lot of bruises during a race at Jiminy. She was going along fine when, just three gates from the finish, she “flew into the air” and ended up “completely eating it.”
That’s hardly her norm, though.
Lundberg’s performance on Whiteface at States was particularly impressive not just because of her relative lack of racing experience compared to many competitors, but also because conditions were so bad at Whiteface.
“That’s why it’s called Iceface for a reason,” Lundberg said, laughing. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Afterward, she said she and teammate Richard Casey, who also survived, concluded they could handle any course because “nothing could be as bad.”
And Lundberg, whose twin eighth-grade siblings, Robby and Molly, also ski for Mamaroneck and whose dad, Greg, and mom, Ann, also ski, has big hopes.
Like Friedlaender, she’d like to take the skimeister title from Czarnick but she also wants more than that.
“Every moment on snow I’m learning something new,” she said, adding next year she’d like not only to qualify again for States but to finish top-five.
The rest of the first team
Martyna Czarnik, Jr., Clarkstown
Emma Hoesterey, Fr., Edgemont
Cody Ryder, Jr., Carmel
Coach of the Year: Chris Reinke, North Salem/John Jay
Sophie Lester, So., Brewster
Bonnie Singh, Sr., North Salem/John Jay
Acadia Thielking, Jr., North Salem/John Jay
Caroline Williams, Fr., North Salem/John Jay
Stefanie Yudell, Sr., Bronxville/New Rochelle
Lyla Zegelstein, Fr., Fox Lane
Caroline Allen, Mamaroneck; Sonny Aryeh, Fox Lane; Carleigh Ashnault, Mahopac; Hailey Cantamessa, Brewster; Anika Carlson, North Salem/John Jay; Olivia CiCinelli, Yorktown; Gabi Falk, Edgemont; Connie Ferragu, Scarsdale; Emma Fruhling, Byram Hills; Emma Georger, Yorktown; Marlee Georger, Yorktown; Anna Grunes, Croton; Celia Haims, Bronxville/New Rochelle; Cassidy Hansen, Suffern; Emma Hewett, Briarcliff; Sophie Jay, Suffern; Becca Klion, Edgemont; Ariel Koff, North Salem/John Jay Emily Kowalski, Fox Lane; Allison Lecce, Horace Greeley; Kate Lehning, Peekskill; Allison Lewis, North Salem/John Jay; Rayna Litt, Edgemont; Paige Ludl, Fox Lane; Molly Lundberg, Mamaroneck; Lauren Manning, Yorktown; Caraline McDonnell, Carmel; Erin Meador, Mamaroneck; Grace Meador, Mamaroneck; Katie Moore, Pleasantville; Leigh Neuberger, North Salem/John Jay; Keegan O’Connor, Brewster; Katja Olcott, Croton; Tayvi Papitto, Carmel; Daisy Patrick, Mamaroneck; Lila Rabinowitz, Fox Lane; Gillian Rosh, Yorktown; Holly Rubloff, Byram Hills; Sarah Simon, Blind Brook; Sarah Smith, Carmel; Melissa Stok, Croton; Saige Sunier, Bronxville/New Rochelle; Cameron Swift, Scarsdale; Amelia Van Essche, Ardsley; Vanessa Van Tongeren, Yorktown; Sarah Weintraub, Scarsdale; Ariella Zagorsky, Edgemont; Rachel Zieff, Croton