Ellis senior Grayson Honig skis her way to victory in PA Governor’s Cup

Sunday, April 16, 2023 | 9:55 PM

Grayson Honig, a senior at Ellis School, competed at the PA Governor’s Cup on the steep, sloping sides of Elk Mountain in Union Dale.

Skiing is nothing new to her. She has been skiing since she was 4 and grew up in a family where everyone skis, including her grandparents, her parents, her sister and her cousins. Nonetheless, winning a ski race is no easy task as conditions change and how she feels changes each day.

Despite the challenges of skiing, Honig was determined the slopes of Elk Mountain wouldn’t conquer her. Honig was in first by the end of the opening run.

“It came down to my last race, my last two runs, and I got through the first one,” Honig said. “I was in first place, which I didn’t expect from a slalom race because that’s a little bit of a more challenging category for me, and it felt so good. But then there was still so much pressure going into this next run. This is make it or break it. I can either do it or I can completely drop it.”

Replicating a strong first run in skiing is not a breeze. Nevertheless, Honig put her body, mind and 14 years of practice into the second run. Honig said she didn’t want to push herself too much, but she also didn’t want to throw it all away.

At the race, teams wear team costumes, and Honig donned a wrestling outfit. However, on the final run, she didn’t want to jeopardize her chances of winning.

“I actually took mine off to stay in my speed suit because I knew that I can’t mess around this last run. This is it,” Honig said. “There’s just so much going through my head with slaloms. You have to think a lot more because there are a lot of different combinations and different factors within the course that you have to think about and ski correctly. I’m pushing the line at all times.”

Honig stayed the course and did what she needed to do to perform at her best. Honig described the course as a bit readier and challenging, but she was prepared to finish the season strong.

“I just remember crossing the line and looking out into the crowd because there’s no announcer that says the times, and one of my teammates, Julia (Freudenberg), was in the crowd, and I just made eye contact with her,” Honig said. “She just raised her hands super high and was so excited. It just all came at me at once. It was incredible. I nearly collapsed because I was just so happy.”

Honig said her coach, Rick Cellich, told her that her consistency is what separates her from others.

She stayed consistent throughout the year and capped the season with a victory at the PA Governor’s Cup. Honig said it is important to stay consistent when points continue to accumulate.

Honig was grateful for the support she received through the years and is glad her friends, family and coaches were there to celebrate.

“It was incredible,” Honig said. “Just these past years, I’ve seen so many people win it. People from my team, there’s been a few and beyond just in Pennsylvania, so it was so incredible to have that moment, not just for me, for my team, for my coach, my parents, just all the people that have supported me all these years in this sport. To have that and then have something to carry around to show all of that, you can’t even explain. It’s just so amazing.”

Honig said she is grateful for support like the times her parents would blast Lizzo in the car and change the lyrics to cheer her on before she competed.

She remembers her first time skiing when her parents took her and her sister, Samantha, to Beaver Creek. Honig’s grandparents live in Montana, and her cousins live in Colorado. Each place is a hub for skiing.

The skiing journey continued and, eventually, her uncle urged her parents to buy her multiple pairs of skis. Her hobby was becoming something more.

Honig said when she was growing up, she always tried to keep up with her cousins. She took it seriously and began to compete.

She continued to ski all over the country and said Jackson Hole in Wyoming is her favorite place to ski.

Nonetheless, skiing wasn’t her only pastime.

In her freshman year of high school, Honig joined the field hockey team at Ellis. She became captain and helped the team capture the WPIAL Class A title.

Her dedication to field hockey has been unwavering, and that led to her committing to Rochester to play field hockey there.

Honig credits her coaches and teammates for pushing her in both sports.

“They always just challenged me to work so much harder, because I see them and I see their results and I just always want to be right up there next to them or beating them,” Honig said. “That gives me motivation, thinking about in practice, taking every hour every minute that I have and just making the most of it, because other people are going to be doing the same.”

Honig said Cellich, her Pittsburgh Venom field hockey club coach Ben Peters, Ellis School field hockey coach Amanda Rose and Rochester field hockey coach Wendy Andreatta give her a support system.

“To have people that believe in you and to have believed in her has pushed her in a very positive manner to achieve this kind of pinnacle of challenge and focus,” said Honig’s mother, Jennifer Honig. “I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

She never will forget seeing her daughter close out the second run.

“She nailed it and did it, and we were celebrating,” Honig said. “What you see about Grayson is her love of the sport is contagious. So beyond our team, she had a lot of other team parents from the different clubs rooting for her, too. It’s a testament to the family nature of the sport and to who Grayson is as a person.”

Honig’s next slope to conquer is her freshman year of college. Honig plans to study data science at Rochester. She also plans to join the ski club team.


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