Shenendehowa Alpine skier Leonard had final run to remember at states

Three skiers with a sign that reads 2023 Champion

Micaela Leonard, center, stands with teammates Alison Bach and Sarah MacFarlane with the NYSPSHAA Girls' Alpine State Championship plaque.

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Shenendehowa Alpine skier Micaela Leonard made the most of her final high school giant slalom runs, and kicked off her ski boots as a two-time state champion.

“I can’t even put it into words,” Leonard said during a recent phone interview. “I wish that there was a way that I could explain it, but it’s so satisfying. It feels so good to be able to come back and do it again.”

Leonard captured the girls’ Alpine giant slalom for the second time in a row with two first-place runs at Bristol Mountain last week for a combined time of two minutes, 15.16 seconds. She captured the giant slalom title last year as a junior.

The repeat wasn’t just an individual title, it was a repeat of a state title for the Shenendehowa girls’ Alpine ski team with teammates Alison Bach and Sara McFarlane.

Leonard was the third and final Shenendehowa skier to finish the giant slalom and with her time, her finish place could lead to another team title.

“Alison’s always crunching the numbers, she’s done it with every season with sectionals and especially with this, just to kind of see where we’re standing as a team,” Leonard said. “They [Bach and McFarlane] both had LiveTiming on their phone and they were just staring at it the whole time.”

The trio would not be disappointed.

The two of them were the first ones to find out,” Leonard said. “As soon as I got out of the little finish corral they had screamed it [team title] and we were all happy and screaming. It was just a really exciting moment for all of us.”

As the defending girls’ giant slalom champion and part of the returning girls’ team titleholder, there was pressure on Leonard.

“I thought that I could possibly take this home at the end of the day, but I think with having accomplished that last year, my thought this year was more focused on the team because no Shen girls team has ever brought home the title two years in a row,” Leonard said.

Leonard left the weekend mountain race scene as a competitor two years ago, keeping her competitive runs limited to the high school season — the state championship would be her last.

“I focused on taking in every minute of it because that was my last race,” Leonard said.”It was a little bit of a retirement thing.”

But she wasn’t skiing alone.

“We [Shen teammates] went into it knowing that we wanted to have the team, we wanted the high school girls Alpine team from Shen to win,” Leonard said.

Leonard completed two runs in the Day 1 slalom event — a change from last year’s competition — missing a gate in last year’s second run and receiving a DNF [Did Not Finish].

“I was really happy with it, I thought that it could have gone a lot worse,” Leonard said. “I was really pleased that I could come back from DNF in my second run last year, and being able to put team points on the board for the Shen girls.”

Day two moved into her favorite discipline — giant slalom.

“GS is a lot bigger, a lot more open, GS courses are usually typically longer,” Leonard said. “Slalom is more technical and requires a lot more agility and a lot more technique with your skiing. GS is still technical, but you’re kind of just throwing yourself down the hill and just letting go.”

Leonard’s focus now turns to the turf and Shenendehowa girls’ lacrosse before she moves on to attend RPI next fall and compete on the Engineers women’s lacrosse team.

“I feel like I’m never gonna be able to say that I’m retired from skiing,” Leonard said. ‘I’m always  thinking it might be a backburner thing and there’s always masters skiing after school.

“I think the path that I’ve chosen with going to RPI, deciding to play lacrosse, I don’t think that there’s anything that’s going to be better for me. I’m so excited for it.”

Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, High School Sports, Sports

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