As far back as to when they were barely steady enough to walk, Conor Newman and Isabel Keating put on skis and hit the slopes.
They have come a long way.
Both are intense competitors representing Elk Mountain Ski Club and earned their way onto the Pennsylvania team that will compete at the Eastern Finals at Gore Mountain in New York on March 21-24.
At the recent Pennsylvania Alpine Racing Association Derby at Elk Mountain, Newman, a senior at Abington Heights, closed out with a fourth-place finish while Keating, a junior at Mountain View, finished the racing season third overall.
The girls with the top five point totals and the top eight boys in the U19 Cup Standings were chosen to represent Pennsylvania in the finals.
At Elk Mountain, Keating scored 45 points on her first giant slalom run, but bounced back with 80 on her second, and finished with 100 points on the slalom. It gave her a six-race season total score of 470.
Anna McDermott, a Pittston Area graduate, also of the Elk Mountain Ski Club, won with a total Cup series score of 585 points.
It is the third straight year for Newman, who was the 2017 champion, and a third-place finisher last season.
“This year wasn’t up to my expectations, because I previously won,” Newman said. “I took a couple of crashes in the first two races and that made it much harder for me. I kept fighting, but I always want to be on top of the podium.”
The Pennsylvania Cup Series consists of eight races, including the three held at Elk Mountain from March 1-3. Athletes have timed runs in the giant slalom and the slalom, and are awarded points for their finish. Both races, however, emphasize the technical aspect of skiing rather than speed.
The giant slalom challenges skiers with a greater distance between the gates. Each competitor takes two runs for each race with one having changes to the course.
For Newman, it has been an up-and-down season. He started with a couple of crashes in the slalom at Seven Springs Mountain and at Elk, he did not finish his second giant slalom run.
Overall, though, Newman had a six-race total score of 335 to finish fifth in the Cup standings. Duncan Bedell of the Ski Round Top Race Club, last year’s champion, finished first overall with 740 points.
“I skied well and the kid who won the state, just beat me by two tenths of a second,” Newman said. “The slope isn’t that long, so the times were very close. I was happy with how I skied.”
Newman, 18, who also began at 2 years old and spent time playing soccer, golf, baseball and football with the Comets, will be attending the University of Utah where he will study finance and continue his skiing career.
“Skiing is definitely my favorite sport,” Newman said. “My mom (Mindi) and dad (Bruce) took me to the mountain and I always wanted to go back. You go fast and the cold air on your face, I just love being out on the slope. There is a real feeling of freedom when you are out there.
“I’m looking forward to the championships. It’s always great going up there and meet kids who share the same passion for skiing that you have. I take pride in it. It’s fun.”
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