When ski season hits, 17-year-old Megan Wigginton and family make the 6-hour drive from their home in Cohutta, Georgia, up to North Carolina for two reasons: snow and speed. A racer with the Chattanooga Ski Club, Megan spends several weekends out of her winter season in the starting gates of the Crescent Ski Council racing program.
How it started: She was eight years old and needed to get to know her new stepdad Kevin Cleek, who also happens to love skiing. "It's our thing now," Megan says, "but I didn't start racing until I was 10." Megan liked watching Kevin race so much, she worked hard until she qualified to race and has been doing it ever since.
The challenge: The falls. "I had grown up water skiing, so it was a different transition to snow skiing-it hurts more when you fall," Megan laughs. "The first time I went down a black diamond I was so excited! Then I got plowed down by a snowboard. I got back up and went down it again."
Tips for speed: "Worry more about being in control than being fast," says Megan. "If you control the way you ski and you ski correctly, you can build on your speed."
Proudest achievement: Two years ago Megan held the title of point leader of the Chattanooga Ski Club, with even more points than her mentor Kevin. "I guess I won a lot that season," she shrugs, then smiles, "It was a good day."
Other interests: "I cheer," says the North-west Whitfield High senior. "I started diving [on the school's new team] yesterday, so we'll see how that goes." She's also big sister to 8-year-old Ben, a favorite skiing buddy on family excursions.
Up next: Acing AP Bio, Government, Calculus and Lit. And hopefully (fingers crossed) acceptance into Georgia State University. Other than that she expects more racing and "tackling the harder slopes," she says and laughs, "Maybe I'll even take to diving."
The perks:"It's something that not many people get to do, or not as often as I do. Racing has gotten me better at skiing in general. When you're standing in the starting gate, it's one of those big adrenaline rush moments. It's just fun."
Megan's dream ski destination: Whistler Blackcomb, Canada; the site of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.