Born and Raised on Whiteface Mountain
by Jaime Collins (Series, Article II)
When we think of siblings, we naturally think of rivalries; perhaps even jealousy and conflict.
But how about sibling inspiration? It is, indeed, possible for siblings to work together and stir and instill passions and make each other stronger and better. Take Rowen, Lincoln, and Cecilia Norfolk, who emulate the Weibrecht siblings.
Born in Saranac Lake at Adirondack Health and raised in Lake Placid, this is a trio of siblings on skis, training, competing, and growing up together at Whiteface Mountain. In the process, they’re finding their passion in ski racing.
Their parents, Darcy and Matthew Norfolk came to Lake Placid two decades ago with the simple dream of raising children in freer and more fulfilling ways, out of the “rat race.” A year later, Rowen was born. Then Lincoln and Cecilia. They’re currently 18, 15, and 11, respectively.
The parents being Division I athletes themselves, athletics were in the children’s DNA, just not in ski racing. But it was Whiteface and the Lake Placid Olympic legacy that opened pathways to success in alpine ski racing.
All three began skiing early as they could walk. Then in elementary school, each started programs with the Lake Placid Ski Club, with approved early dismissal for afternoon skiing two days a week and on weekends with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF). Today they all continue to ski competitively. Each one is at the top of their age division, winning not only at the club level and the State level but also gaining recognition for New York State Racing Association (NYSSRA) athletes in the Eastern region and receiving nominations even at the National level. Their achievements are many. Even at just 11 years old, Cecilia is racking up wins.
There are many things to credit for those achievements, yet the trio all agree, Whiteface has played a prominent role. The formidable mountain gave them a solid footing for success. “Ice and steep pitches are my forte. It’s funny, I’ve actually had more trouble learning to ski on flats,” says Rowen. “The technical skills and conditions at Whiteface will help me long term as that is more of what you need at higher level races.”
The path was there for them, from early learning opportunities to conquering steep pitches. “Growing up skiing at Whiteface makes you feel like you can conquer any mountain,” says Lincoln. “The saying goes, ‘if you can ski Whiteface, you can ski anywhere.’”
Over time, the trio has developed exceptional skills, learned to lean into challenges, and grown resilient in their sport. “Ski racing builds skills that are hard to explain. They become just inherent to your nature,” stated Rowen. “I have had my share of setbacks. The mental and emotional aspect is what you need to always keep in check. I am going to gap this season to continue to reduce my FIS profile, and I aim to ski D1.”
And though they’re each unique, Rowen, Lincoln, and Cecilia – as siblings and skiers – all share some things in common. They genuinely love their sports and each other. They chose ski racing. “My parents made my brother and me decide if we would continue to play hockey or ski race,” stated Lincoln. “It was hard because I had so many friends on the hockey team, but we both chose skiing. I have been wanting to ski in the same division as my brother since I can remember, as we are two years apart. This year we are both FIS, and I look forward to helping make each other better, and of course, I hope to beat him.”
“That is not going to happen,” stated Rowen.
With an almost 5-year age gap, Cecilia has grown up at Whiteface skiing since the age of 1, following her brothers and not knowing any different. “I want to be just like my brothers,” stated Cecilia.
They also all recognize in their ways their siblings’ contributions to their development as athletes. Of course, her brothers’ impact is especially poignant for the youngest, Cecilia. “Rowen and Lincoln are role models. They inspire me.”
Says Rowen, “My sister is one to watch out for.”
Passion, people say, can make just about anything happen. But where does passion come from? Sometimes it’s from the things we do when we’re young. Sometimes, we get it from people around us; those we look up to – parents, friends, coaches, heroes. Siblings, too, beyond the inevitable conflicts, hold the potential to inspire our personal development, directly and indirectly.
As for the Norfolks, they have the obvious advantage of growing up on Whiteface Mountain and learning from a young age. But they also have each other. And one can never underestimate the value of that positive influence.