MONTICELLO – “Champions aren’t made in gyms. They are made from something they have deep inside them- a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the …
MONTICELLO – “Champions aren’t made in gyms. They are made from something they have deep inside them- a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be even stronger than the skill.”
Those words voiced by Mohammad Ali, arguably the Greatest of All Time in boxing, apply to Monticello sophomore Alexis Heins who captured the NYSPHSAA Slalom Skiing Championship at Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua, NY, finishing with a top combined time of 1:36.97 ahead of the other 65 competitors who had earned the right to compete by virtue of fine placement in their individual sectional championships.
After her dramatic first place run of 47.78, Heins needed to secure a fast time in the second run to capture the crown. Her time of 49.19 did just that. To become a state champion is an extraordinary achievement, one that Heins found hard to put into words during interviews following her exalted position on the medal stand. But to achieve this as a sophomore is even more remarkable.
Heins started skiing at Holiday Mountain at age two. By the time she was four she was already racing. By age seven Heins had outgrown Holiday Mountain and began to ski at other venues. She currently races for the U-16 Hunter Mountain ski team as well as competing for Monticello High School. The Hunter Mountain ski season can range from late October to early April depending on the conditions.
Ski competitions in Section IX are often much more limited due to inconsistent snowfall and temperatures.
Heins is coached at Monticello by Lisa Bittinger and at Hunter Mountain by Daniela Brozkova.
“Alexis Heins has been fortunate to have started skiing at a young age. She began at Holiday Mt, moved on to Mt Peter, Hunter Mt, Windham Mt and back to Hunter Mt for her training programs,” Coach Bittinger explained. “She joined the Monticello High School Ski Team in the 7th grade.”
“This past preseason Alexis was fortunate to have trained over the summer in Europe and then Colorado in the Fall. Lexi’s training enabled her to be the Section IX Champion and the NYS Girl’s SL Champion. We look forward to watching her future successes,” Bittinger added.
“My coaches really helped me improve this year. I worked much more on my technique instead of just trying to get stronger,” Heins said.
“Lexie has been an outstanding skier for years,” Section IX Ski Coordinator Janet Carey said. “As our OCIAA Division 1 Champion, as well as our Section 9 Girls Champion and, of course, this year skiing so well at States earning her the Girls State SL Ski Championship and also medaling 4th in the Giant Slalom.”
“She has devoted seasons to training in addition to her HS racing in USSA races as well as in Europe,” Carey added. “Watching her grow and improve each year in both disciplines has been enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see what she will be able to accomplish over the next two years!”
She listens diligently to advice and strategy tips from both coaches and tries to deploy what works best for her. Heins hails from a skiing family whose influence and support helped to nurture her extraordinary skill and determination.
Key in this process were her mom Becky and grandfather Kenny Heins. Her cousins Haley, Ricky and Ryan were all outstanding skiers whose performances emblazon Monticello High School ski history.
Others influencing and supporting Alexis were her aunt Amy Heins and her great-uncle Dave. Heins competes in both the slalom and giant slalom. Skiing the slalom course involves much tighter turns and quicker feet, while giant slalom requires more strength.
Heins was the Section IX slalom champion for the second straight year. Last year at states she finished fifth in slalom and eighth in giant slalom.
Asked what she loves most about skiing, Heins quickly replies, “I love the freedom of it. When you’re going down the course, you’re not thinking about anything else.”
Heins experiences no fear in either slalom or giant slalom. Super G however is another matter. Super G is a faster giant slalom. While Super G is not an event in NYSPHSAA alpine skiing, she competes in the event at Hunter Mountain.
Heins is currently just 15 years old. Next year she will move up to the U-18 team at Hunter. Following her win at states, she competed in the USASA Eastern Regionals on Canon Mountain in New Hampshire which featured the top ten skiers from each state. A fall in the slalom resulted in a disappointing 45th place. She finished 28th in the giant slalom. Nevertheless, it was a great experience.
Heins looks to build on her skills and hopefully retain her state title. She is the goalkeeper for the Lady Panthers soccer team in the fall but uses the spring to catch up on her grades.
In the offseason she skis at Big Snow, an indoor ski facility in NJ. She has also traveled to Les Deux Alpes ski resort in France. Conditioning for skiing in the offseason involves lots of squats to build strength and flexibility. College selection is still a long way off, but rest assured her choice will entail competitive skiing.
With two more years ahead of her in high school, Alexis Heins will most assuredly continue to be an outstanding winter athlete. By all standards including those asserted by Mohammad Ali, this year’s Sullivan County Outstanding Winter Athlete is indeed a champion.
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