By Louisa Benatovich

Ellicottville is renowned throughout Western New York as an idyllic little ski town. It seems to exist solely for people to enjoy…and to then leave.

But what about the Ellicottville locals? The ones that choose to stay for the good and the bad, the perfect powder days and the icy ones?

Being raised here and living in the shadows of the ski resorts, how do Ellicottville Central School students continue to enjoy the winter sports that they’re exposed to every day?

Skiing and snowboarding are woven into the fabric of Ellicottville’s very existence. Some of ECS’s students learn to ski before they can even walk.

Read on to discover how ECS students use this incredible hobby to find joy, get outdoors and open windows of opportunity.

Sophomore Logan Fredrickson began skiing when she was two years old and began ski racing when she was 7.

“I have been racing since then and I also began ski racing for our school varsity team in 7th grade,” she said. “My dad ski raced when he was younger and it was a big part of his life. He convinced my sister and me to try it for one year and we fell in love with the sport.”

Fredrickson said she enjoys the traveling and new experiences when competing at different places, but loves the adrenaline when she’s in the starting gate and on the course.

“It’s so much fun to go fast,” she said. “Yes, it is very scary and I always have that thought in my head how scared I am but I want to do my best.”

In addition to the sport itself, Fredrickson said the food that keeps her fueld is one of the things she looks forward to at the resort and after coming home.

“Of course I love to have hot chocolate to help me warm up!” she said. “I also absolutely adore the Holiday Valley waffles. They are amazing and I would eat them all day.”

After a long day of skiing, she said she also enjoys to get blankets and popcorn, cheese and crackers and soup.

“My mom always makes sure I have good food,” Fredrickson added.

AS SOON AS there is snow on the ground, Fredrickson’s dad, Kelly Fredrickson, gets her and her twin sister, Hayly, out and going. They train year-round by working out, she said, and during the ski season, they have races almost every weekend and a school race once a week.

Training comes Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours during the evening and almost all day Saturday and Sunday.

“If the conditions are rough, we will sometimes travel to find better snow or train on bigger and different hills,” she said.

As the state season slowly approaches, Fredrickson said they have to start preparing more mentally than physically. Although in great physical shape, skiing is a very mental sport, she said.

“We need to keep our focus and not worry about what’s going on around us or what the conditions or weather is like or how other people are doing,” she explained. “We need to focus on us and what we have to do to do our best.”

Fredrickson said there is a lot to think about while going down the hill at fast speeds and one little mistake can cost you. She said seconds can make a big difference and every little thing she does matters.

“It is very intense and nerve-wracking, but I relax and listen to music and take a lot of power naps at the top of the slope,” she said.

Before a race, they usually rest and stretch and run up and down the hill when it’s cold to try to stay warm, Fredrickson said. Her dad also helps with the prep, not just skis, but with encouraging words and getting “in the zone” to do what she needs to do.

“Sometimes it is hard because, near the stars season, our races are very tight and close together. Our states through Holiday Valley are usually right before our high school states and we could often have up to six days of racing in a row,” she said. “It’s obviously very difficult and exhausting.”

Because they’re away from home for a week and always on the go, Fredrickson said it keeps her busy so she doesn’t miss my friends too much. She said her parents both do a fantastic job getting them where we need to be and everything we need.

“I appreciate it so much,” she added.

FREDRICKSON AND her sister won their first state championship in 8th grade while attending their second state race through NYSPHSAA (New York State Public High School Athletic Association).

“We honestly were completely shocked,” she said, meaning both sisters and their dad. “We did not expect it at all. I had actually fallen both days of racing — of course, I got up and still finished — and my results were not as strong as they could have been, even though they were still good.”

Although their third teammate for the girls’ team had decided to not attend and they thought they would have been eliminated from the team division, the ECS team was called as the champion. “We didn’t know what to do. We were taken by surprise, but of course completely ecstatic we had won,” Fredrickson said. “It made it even more special for me to have done it with just my twin, too. She’s my sidekick and, obviously, we work well together.”

With no specific plans post-high school, Fredrickson said she will definitely continue to ski for as long as she can recreationally. She plans to race at the least until graduation but will have to see about college.

“It’s an amazing sport and very unique and I love it,” she said. “I hope more people decide to join this sport because it is definitely an experience. It has drawn me close to new friends and my family and taken me to places all over. I definitely will never forget any of the experiences from this sport in my future and I definitely hope to make more everlasting memories.”

This is part one of a two-part series on the students of Ellicottville Central School and their passion for winter sports. Tune in next week to hear from Elissa Cole, Mikey McGuire, Mason Perks, and Meganne Chapman.