Sophie Sellstrom is a daredevil.
For how else could you describe someone who intentionally careens down a snow-covered mountain at breakneck speeds, often in excess of 65 miles per hour?
"I like everything about it," she said on Wednesday evening, shrugging off the danger. "I like the adrenaline rush, even the cold (you feel on the mountain). I just like the whole idea of racing."
Jamestown High School senior Sophie Sellstrom is seen in action during a race in January of 2012.
Photo by Tim Frank
She added with a laugh, "I get so excited about races that I can't sleep."
Thrill seeking of that sort is nothing new for Sellstrom, a Jamestown High School senior who is a member of Ellicottville's Ski Team, which was only high school squad in all of Section 6 to field a team this season. In fact, the daughter of John and Cindy took up the sport at a time when some are still learning to walk, snapping on her first set of skis at the youthful age of 1.
And while that daring attitude might not be overly familiar to many, it's likely the reason she's been so successful during her 11 years of competition as an alpine racer.
Just look at what Sellstrom has accomplished on the mountain in the last month alone.
In early February, Sellstrom competed at the Empire State Winter Games at Lake Placid, where she placed in the top 15 in each of the three disciplines of alpine racing - the slalom, the giant slalom, and the super giant slalom.
Along with the Empire State Winter Games, she also took part in the High School State Championships at Bristol Mountain, followed quickly by the New York State Ski Racing Association (NYSSRA)/United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) New York State U18 Championships at Gore Mountain a few days later.
At Gore Mountain, which is located in the Adirondacks at North Creek, she raced to a seventh-place finish in the giant slalom, a course that takes racers on a vertical drop of 250-400 meters, with a two-run combined time of 2:21.44, just five seconds off the winner; a seventh-place finish in the super giant slalom behind a two-run time of 1:11.87, which was just a little more than a second off the winner's mark; and a 21st-place finish (because of a tumble) in the slalom.
"I did pretty well," she offered.
Pretty well indeed.
The performance earned her an invitation to both the FIS Eastern Regionals - an international racing event - and the USSA Eastern Regionals - an event that brings together some of the best racers from around the East and Canada.
Faced with the difficult choice of which group of first-rate racers to compete against, Sellstrom eventually opted for the latter.
"I got invited to the FIS Eastern Regionals, which is an international race, but I decided to go to the USSA Eastern Regionals in Okemo, Vermont," she explained. "It's the next step up from (high school racing).''
Another reason was more exposure to college recruits.
"That's another reason why I decided to go to the USSA (Eastern Regionals)," she said. "Colleges look more at that race, which will hopefully help me, wherever I end up going, (get a chance to compete at the college level)."
Sellstrom and her father, who is one of her coaches, set out for Vermont on Friday; the event kicks off on Saturday and runs through Tuesday.
As usual, she can't wait to get racing.
"I'm really excited to go," she said. "I love the mountain (there)."
To keep up with how Sellstrom is faring this weekend, live results will be available at www.live-timing.com.