Sebastian Ferretti, Charlie Breest Empire State Winter Games winners
Snow fell on Lake Placid during the weekend of the 33rd Empire State Winter Games. Common logic might have predicted that the athletes set to compete in the boardercross and skiercross competitions would have been overjoyed at the sight of the white flakes tumbling toward the ground.
Common logic would have been wrong.
"It was hard to actually go fast because there was a lot of powder," Sebastian Ferretti, 15, of Merrick said. "It causes more friction on the bottom of your skis, which causes you to go slower. When it's more hard-packed, or even icy, you go way faster."
Still, this didn't hurt the Long Island Lutheran sophomore much.
Ferretti won the skiercross competition for his age group (13-15 years old) at the Games, held Feb. 7-10.
The competition, which was a race down Whiteface Mountain on skis, consists of jumps and obstacles that competitors must navigate.
"It's very action packed," Ferretti said. "It's probably the most fun skiing thing I've done."
Defending champion Charlie Breest, 20, of Lindenhurst won the men's open-class competition in boardercross -- a sport similar to skiercross, only with a snowboard in place of skis.
"It was a little nerve-wracking trying to defend it," he said. "It would have been worse if I lost this year, knowing that I had won last year."
The Games marked only the fifth time that Breest had mounted a snowboard this year. Between taking classes at Suffolk Community College and working on repairing his home, which was damaged during superstorm Sandy, there hasn't been much time for racing.
That made the victory even sweeter. By the time Breest hit the trail, conditions were optimal.
"It got icy and hard-packed just from everyone riding it," he said. "By race time, it was perfect."
Rory Hughes, 12, of Centerport, won both the boardercross and slopestyle competition for his age group (12-13 years old).
Hughes won the 2009 boardercross national championship.
"When I was younger, I was taught really well and was very structured," he said. "I knew what to do when I came up to every obstacle. I knew the angles and how to confront them."
In slopestyle, snowboarders are judged on two different runs. Hughes won with a score of 5.53. Rockville Centre's Devin Farrell came in third in the same age division, scoring a 3.30, according to the Games' official website.
"It gives me a sense of pride to be able to be good at something other than the mainstream sports," Hughes said. "I just love being able to fly down a mountain and have that sense of freedom."