Even Faster with Skis on Their Feet
Born and Raised on Whiteface Mountain
by Jaime Collins (Series, Article I)
Getting up early to do hard things is not a standard part of most kids’ days. But then, most kids don’t grow up skiing competitively.
Zoe and Leland Carpenter live in the nearby Adirondack village of Bloomingdale with their parents Leda and Zach, and at the ages of 15 and 11, they are learning, training, and having serious fun skiing at Whiteface Mountain.
“I’m a fairly competitive person, and that keeps me from skipping training days,” says Zoe. “I don’t like skiing bad.” Hearing that, it’s not surprising she cites determination as one of her personal strengths.
Her mom, Leda, chimes in, “Just from watching, I see they are both are very committed to their sports. It’s never a struggle. They’re always ready to get up and go. They get their bags packed and are ready and eager.”
Zoe and Leland both began skiing earlier than they can even remember. “I remember wanting to go on the gondola,” says Leland. “But I wasn’t ready, and I had to keep skiing lower down on the mountain. Now, what I like most about Whiteface is all the different terrain and how steep it can get. The terrain is just really fun.”
Leland recognizes there’s more value to the ski racing and training than being a great skier. “I like Whiteface because of all the friends I’ve made here. The mountain is a good place for me.”
Zoe nods adding, “Both of us have made a lot of friends in the sport at Whiteface.”
On a typical weekend morning Zoe and Leland will arrive early at Whiteface to help their coaches at the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) set up gates for the day’s training courses, all before beginning their morning training runs.
With a lot of young athletes training on the same course, snow conditions on the turns get more challenging throughout the day. According to Zoe, “That’s when it’s best to practice for races. Every time you just try to ski better and be faster and work on the things you’re focusing on that day.”
After lunch, they do drills and just plain ski. Zoe is focused primarily on alpine racing, and while Leland has enjoyed success on that front, too, he sees himself as more a freestyle skier. “I like the jumps,” he says. It’s evident they both truly enjoy skiing and simply being outside on the mountain, yet they are also eager to race and revel in the competition.
“I like racing here,” says Zoe. “Especially Slalom. It’s a lot of fun.” Both have already raced at competitions around the state, including at States and at Empire State Games. And they’ve met with considerable success. Leland won a podium position this past year in the Giant Slalom event at the Kandahar Festival, and Zoe secured a big win at the Hovey Memorial Ski Race at Whiteface.
While they celebrate the plaques and medals, Zoe and Leland have also learned to see beyond them. “I set goals at the start of season and sometimes at the end of seasons,” says Zoe confidently. “I update my goals, and based on where I feel I am, I decide what I want to be doing. The sport helps you grow as a person because you’re having new experiences and learning new skills that are for skiing but also can be applied and translated to everyday life.”
“They started skiing so young,” says Leda. “I think it’s wonderful to learn to ski at Whiteface because they can pretty much ski any terrain now. Part of our getting them involved with training was to help them be really good skiers. From the parent perspective, it’s been a great place for them to learn.”
These are hard-working dedicated young athletes who understand and appreciate the opportunities they have living here in the North Country so close to the Olympic mountain. People come from all over the world to get little a time on Whiteface, and Zoe and Leland know first-hand what they have here in their own backyard.
“I like all the different levels at Whiteface,” says Zoe. “If you don’t want to do something super steep, you can do an easier trail and vice versa. There’s always something to do that’s different. There’s always a new trail. I also like the environment here and the people and the mountain and everything we’re doing. It all makes it fun and enjoyable.”