Smith leads Lady Trojans
Published 1:03 am, Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Weston girls ski team senior captain Michelle Smith knows how to fight through pain. Having endured five broken bones and four surgeries over her many years of athletics, she has learned to keep pushing forward even when things may seem disparaging. This holds true especially with her Lady Trojan ski career, in which she has captained the team the past two years.
"For me, skiing has always been about the challenge," Smith said. Although she never had time to regularly train in the New England mountains like some of her peers because of scheduling conflicts, she always pushed herself to do her best whenever she got on the slopes
Initially attracted by the thrill and speed that accompany downhill ski racing, and the inherent risks and challenges associated with it, Smith got on the slopes at the age of three and never looked back, even while her unlucky injuries slowed her down.
On the slopes, Smith has been one of Weston's best skiers during the past four years. After being one of the fastest seven skiers (and therefore making varsity) her freshman year, she has only improved.
This led to her being named a captain not only for her senior year, but as a junior as well. In both years Smith was named to the All-State team and in her final race this season at State Opens, she finished 16th overall with a combined time of 53.56 seconds.
The honor most important to her, however, is the Outstanding Commitment award she won as a freshman, after skiing at States with a broken wrist. She values it because "it shows my perseverance and commitment to the team."
This commitment has become a major part of who Smith is as she has matured as a skier. "Skiing for Weston has taught me that success will always be an uphill battle, and that you can only achieve success through hard work which eventually pays off," she said.
Although she admitted that she was inconsistent and crashed at times in early races, "I finally learned to focus more on positivity and improvement my senior year and I didn't fall once."
In Smith's sophomore year, Doug Hoffman joined the team as an assistant to head coach Rich Fanning. "He has been a great asset to our team both on and off the slope and they both really know what they're talking about," she said.
One moment that Smith will never forget is when she made varsity at time trials during her freshman year.
"I decided at the last minute to do ski team, and it was such an accomplishment to be varsity my freshman year," she said. "I felt like I was taking on [an important] role on the team early on, which probably contributed to my later success."
A defining moment of Smith's athletic life outside of Weston was when she went to a summer training camp at Mount Hood in Oregon and skied with some of the best racers in the country. Being able to watch their styles and learn from what they did was influential for her ski career, because she applied it to her own skiing and used techniques she learned then to help her do better for the Lady Trojans.
Having been Weston's top skier for two seasons, Smith has made a big impact on the Lady Trojan program. Doing her best to show the team that it is not necessary to ski every weekend or be on a Vermont racing team to do well in the sport, she has shown her teammates that by putting in the effort and trying hard you can succeed. "I never had the opportunity to race for a big mountain team, and my success was a result of hard work in practices and good coaching," she said.
While she does excel at skiing, she does not restrict herself to just that. She also keeps busy with competitive horseback riding and playing tennis, both in USTA tournaments (in which she ranked as high as 17th on the 14-and-under list) and on the high school varsity team.
In the classroom, Smith's favorite classes are European history andlLiterature, and she also enjoys playing the piano in her free time. This fall, she will be going to Elon University, and she is thinking about studying pre-law or pre-med, but is still undecided.
Smith hopes to ski on the club team while playing tennis on the JV or varsity level. During her college winters she hopes that she can participate in NASTAR (National Standard Race) ski events in Vermont.