Athlete Spotlight: Pittsfield's Michael Mansfield

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The high school skiing season is over, but Pittsfield's Michael Mansfield is still a busy man. After finishing seventh in the Giant Slalom race at the MIAA state championships at his home mountain of Berkshire East, Mansfield has been training for his Berkshire East racing team. His final race of the winter will be in April, but the PHS freshman is also gearing up to try out for the Generals baseball team. On a Sunday rest day, Mansfield stopped into The Eagle offices to chat about all things skiing and his excitement for baseball season to start.

Berkshire Eagle: When did you start skiing? Where did you first learn how to?

Michael Mansfield: I started skiing when I was 4 or 5. I don't really remember much of that. I started racing at about 6 years old for the Berkshire East interclub team. We [brothers Dave (junior) and Josh (senior) and he] weren't really amazing at it, but it was really fun. We kind of liked it. Kept doing it and doing it. Each year we got a little bit better, then eventually realized we could take it somewhere. We started training harder, realized that Bousquet wasn't really enough for us, the hill wasn't enough, so we went over to Berkshire East. We met a lot of cool people there, really like the coaches, we have some really close friends there now. We love the mountain, it's a great place.

BE: What's it like growing up with brothers racing together and how competitive were you guys growing up?

MM: It kind of made us better knowing that we always have a rival right next to us and we always have someone to catch as we are skiing. It made it a little bit easier for us and kind of brought us closer together as a family.

BE: When did you first realize you were faster than your older brothers?

MM: I kind of always had a feeling, but I didn't realize it until this year because this is the first year that we've raced against each other. All three of us were grown up and had some talent to show. I realized that the first three races of high school.

BE: How much has this high school season helped you as a skier?

MM: I think it was just all the support some of my teammates gave me. They were all kind of new at it, other than my brothers, everyone was kind of new at it and thought it was really cool that I was a fast skier. They were really supportive of me and they helped out a lot. I think I became closer with my teams this year.

BE: People see skiing and just assume people get on it and go; but equipment plays a big part in it. You have to have the right kind of stuff; what kind of equipment do you use?

MM: This year was the first year we really find the right gear, with a lot of help from coaches. We realized that the bigger ski, the faster, but it takes a lot of strength and athleticism to be able to control a big ski. Not a lot of people realize how athletic the sport is and how difficult it is, they think it's just going straight down a hill. It takes a lot of strength and a lot of talent to go do it.

BE: What would you say the most technically difficult part of skiing is?

MM: I think realizing that smooth is fast. Being aggressive throws you off balance but you have to remember the more stable you are in your body, the faster — it's kind of hard to understand, I guess. I didn't really realize it until now. I don't know how to explain it well.

BE: What is your favorite place to go skiing?

MM: Definitely like a lot of the big mountains, Stowe is really nice. I was just in Switzerland, that was really cool. But I think just kind of Bousquet and Berkshire East, because I know a lot of people there. I think skiing is more fun when you know the people you are with.

BE: Talk to me a little bit about the competing you do outside of high school. What mountain are you racing for? What team are you on? How did the season go for you?

MM: I race for Berkshire East Race Team, and it wasn't my best year. I started off really struggling a lot, I was crashing all the time, I didn't really finish my races and I was frustrated with my season. As the year went on, I calmed down a little bit and any time I need to put down a good run, I could. I was just recently at Eastern Regional up at Stowe. That wasn't really my best racing, but it was a lot of fun. I think traveling and racing all these different mountains really helps out and is really cool.

BE: Do you do anything else besides skiing? What do you do when it's not winter and there's no snow on the mountain?

MM: I do a lot of baseball, and it kind of overlaps which is hard. We've been playing baseball for two months, but I've missed all of that. It's pretty even. It's kind of hard to play both sports at the same time. Even though it seems like different seasons, it's not. They overlap a lot. Skiing gets me in shape for baseball, baseball gets me in shape for skiing so it kind of works out.

BE: How excited are you for opening day in baseball tomorrow?

MM: I'm pretty excited. I've really missed baseball even though I love skiing. I think it's going to be really cool to be with all my baseball friends, maybe see a lot of people I haven't seen in a while.

BE: Lastly, long day on the mountain, got to stop somewhere for dinner on the way home — what are you picking?

MM: Either pizza, burgers or mac and cheese.

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