The Reynolds clan has ski racing in their blood, and Emma Reynolds ’19 is no exception. A skier since the age of four, she started racing when she was just seven years old in the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) program at Whiteface Mountain in New York. Progressing up through the U8, U10, U12, and U14 competitive levels, Emma developed into a fierce competitor with a deep love for the sport.
She is following in the tracks of her grandfather, J.D. Reynolds, who competed in the senior Olympics; her father Andrew, who captained the Dartmouth Ski Team; and her siblings Peter ’15, who raced for Holderness, and Andrea ’17, who competed in the Junior Nationals. However, Emma never felt any pressure to make skiing her passion. “It was never an expectation that we had to ski,” she says. “They gave us the option to ski race, and we all loved it!”
Last December, Emma, who just finished her sophomore year at Holderness, was selected to participate in a U.S. Ski Team Eastern Regional Project Series (RPS). The RPS gathers the top U16 kids from each state to train and race together as a development tool for the US Ski Team. This was Emma’s first race of the season, and she was curious to see how she would measure up against competitors from the ski academy in Vermont. In the slalom race on the first day, she straddled a gate in her first run but won the second run. She learned at this point that this series was also a qualifier for European races. The next day, she won the Giant Slalom; the combined results of her first-place slalom run and her winning the GS outright put her at the top of the Eastern U16 girls, and she was selected to compete in the Alpe Cimbra Cup in Folgaria, Italy in January.
Emma was one of three U.S. girls and three U.S. boys to head to Italy. They spent ten days training and then racing in Folgaria. She competed in the team slalom, the slalom, and the giant slalom against the top U16s in the world. “Going to Italy was really awesome,” says Emma. “Although it was definitely not where I did my best, it was so cool to see all these amazing athletes, and when I got back I found that my skiing had improved so much just from watching all these incredible skiers.”
Emma keeps a balanced perspective on her ski career and recognizes that her love for the sport has been key to her success. “My perspective on winning has definitely changed over the years,” she notes. “A lot of people at my age are just specializing in skiing and get burned out. It’s important for me to continue to love it and to make sure I’m not just doing it for the results.” Emma is a well-rounded athlete who also competes on the varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams at Holderness. She has found that over the years she has also become mentally tougher, a necessity in a sport where small mistakes can make a huge difference. “It’s such an individual sport, and when you mess up there’s nobody else to blame,” she says. “You’ve let yourself down, and it can be pretty crushing.” But instead of frustration and tears, Emma now uses setbacks to spur her on to work harder. “I use it to push me and I just focus on what’s next.”
Emma’s experience in Italy got her thinking about future possibilities. “Some of the girls in Italy race on the World Cup circuit. That would be amazing,” she muses. However, her bucket list is also filled with ski destinations around the world that she can’t wait to experience. “Val d'Isère (in the French Alps) is at the top of my list,” says Emma. “Kitzbühel in Austria is another one,” she says. “People do these incredibly dangerous downhill runs, where it’s a really steep pitch and they’re going down 90 miles per hour! It looks terrifyingly fun!”