Time Warner Cable News honors Gabby Hedges as the Capital Region's Scholar Athlete of the Week. Gabby is a senior at Saratoga Springs High School, a member of the varsity tennis team and captain of the alpine ski team. With a 97 overall average and a top 30 performance at last year's state championships, the Spa City native excels on and off the slopes.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY -- Skiing seems to come naturally to Gabby Hedges. The Saratoga native's father first put her on a mountain when she was barely old enough to walk.
"We skied the bunny hill all day," said Hedges, who had yet to turn three when she first strapped on her ski boots. "I just remember having so much fun with him. It's just something we've bonded over."
For the next six years, Gabby's love for the sport grew.
"The most enjoyable part of skiing is how freeing it is," said Hedges, now a senior at Saratoga Springs High School. "There's really not a lot of structure to it."
When she turned eight, her father suggested she try something he enjoyed for much of his life, racing.
"Initially I really wasn't a fan of it, to be honest," said Hedges, who spent most of her younger years skiing at West Mountain in nearby Queensbury. "But it grew on me a lot and it ended up being a passion of mine."
That passion has fueled Gabby as she's grown into one of the top alpine skiers in Section II. As a junior, she finished in the top 30 at the state championships.
"The biggest asset that she has is her enthusiasm and dedication to it," said Glyn Chilton, Saratoga's varsity and junior varsity alpine ski team coach for the past two years.
"I'm pretty competitive, I'm hard on myself," Hedges said.
"You can see, one, her ability and, two, her determination to get the best out of herself," Chilton said. "It's obvious when you watch her ski."
With a 97 overall average and a spot on the varsity tennis team last Fall, Gabby's success stretches well beyond the mountain, where she's proven to be a leader for younger teammates.
"I think some of the younger racers definitely look to her for advice," Chilton said.
Midway through her senior season, Gabby expects to build on last year's success at the state championships. With the sun fading on her scholastic career, she's not quite ready to give up her spot at the mountaintop.
"I've excelled in areas I never thought I would," admits Hedges, who's yet to decide where she'll attend college this Fall. "It's going to be hard opening a new chapter of my life but at the same time, I know I'm ready for it."