By Alicia Dziak

Being in a ski town during a Winter Olympics year, it’s easy to see how local skiers catch the Olympic fever. One of those skiers is 16-year-old Tricia Mangan, who lives in Derby, N.Y., and learned her skills on the slopes of HoliMont.

“HoliMont is a small mountain that produces a ton of good skiers,” Mangan said. “They do a great job nurturing their skiers.”

Mangan learned to ski at the age of three, taught by her parents at HoliMont.  She joined the racing team just three years later.

“I joined the HoliMont Race team when I was 6 years old,” Mangan said. “My twin brother, William, and older brothers, Connor and Peter, were on the team also and my mom, Martha, is on the Ski Patrol at HoliMont. Now my younger brother, Andrew, and younger sister, Mary Catherine, are on the team, too!”

When asked what coaches she’s worked with at HoliMont, Mangan replied, “I have had many amazing coaches at HoliMont but most recently Travis Widger, Jeff Walker, and Bob Armstrong.”

Mangan’s coaches worked with her to develop her skills in downhill, super G, GS and slalom.

In fact, Mangan’s training went so well at HoliMont that she’s currently out West chasing down her dream.

“Last year, I skied really well in the U16 Eastern Champs and was selected to go to U16 Nationals in Park City in April,” explained Mangan. “I flew out to Park City alone but with huge telephone support from my parents, siblings, and Travis (Widger) and Jeff (Walker). I competed against 30 other top U16 skiers and came in fourth overall. This result was what lead to the invitation I received from the U.S. Junior Ski Team! After talking to many, many people, my parents and I decided that I would accept the invitation but remain matriculated at Nardin where I am a junior.”

Mangan continues to work hard academically to keep up with her schoolwork.

“I miss all my friends at Nardin a ton and my teachers, too! Nardin has been amazing and really works hard with me to make sure my academics won’t suffer,” she said.

While keeping up with her grades is a commitment, it’s not the biggest challenge about being away from home.

“The hardest part of being away is that I don’t get to hang out with William, Andrew and Mary Catherine. Mary is only eight and we are super close, so I suppose I miss her silliness the most. My older two brothers, who are away at college, and my parents are great, and I talk with one of them almost every day.”

After spending the winter training and skiing hard, Mangan will have a short break in the spring before returning to her routine.

“The U18 U.S. Ski Team made a two-year commitment to me, so after competing in the U.S. Nationals next week, I will return to my home in Derby, where I will complete the school year at Nardin, take the SATs and enjoy being home for a while,” Mangan said.

“The U18 Team will likely do some dry land projects in May and June and then head to either Chile or New Zealand in August and Colorado in October/November for on-snow training. I will attend as many of these events as possible and then begin racing with the team again in Colorado in November. Last fall, I was able to play varsity soccer at Nardin and our team went to the state championships. I hope to be able to do this again as well … if my ski coaches allow it,” she said.

Frank Kelble, U18 U.S. Ski Team women’s head coach, said, “Tricia is doing great things at U18s. Very impressive. She is becoming a great skier, competitor, teammate and leader.”

“The plan is I am developing myself to hopefully complete in the Olympics!” Mangan said.

While she spends a lot of time skiing elsewhere, Mangan hasn’t forgotten about the slopes where she learned to ski.

“I miss Ellicottville and HoliMont a ton!” she said. “I ski in Ellicottville every chance I get, because my family is there as many days as possible in the winter. I recently had a two-week break from the U18 U.S. Ski Team and spent the entire time in Ellicottville. I trained with my twin brother and my friends as often as I could, and it was great to be with Travis and Jeff again on the hill!”

Travis Widger, HoliMont’s racing director, said, “It has been great to see Tricia these past couple of weeks in Ellicottville, and great to have her so eager to ski and train when she comes home. She is a great kid and is skiing well. I am psyched to see the improvements in her skiing, and even more impressed with her mental composure, approach and execution during training.”

Mangan’s coaches, family, teammates, classmates and all of Ellicottville will surely be cheering her on as she pursues her Olympic dreams!