One of Emma Peplowski's favorite moments from her senior season came on the last night of high school Alpine racing at Bousquet Ski Area.
Facing the dreaded slalom and a field that had seen a different winner for every race, the senior became the only girl to win two races in 2013.
"I've been struggling with slalom for a while now," Peplowski said. "I knew this year was my last chance to really get it. I worked really hard for that. ... It was such a hard thing for me to get a hold of and grasp and successfully do."
That victory helped Peplowski clinch the county title and All-Eagle Most Valuable Player honors. She also won the second Giant Slalom of the year -- her first career win.
Bob Geller, who coaches the Pittsfield/St. Joseph co-op team Peplowski skis for, said the senior became the complete package this season. She added slalom to go along with an already strong skill set in Giant Slalom.
"I think she was just more confident with taking chances," Geller said. "Last year she would hold back a little bit. She didn't play it as safe this year. That's what you have to do, especially in ski racing."
Even skiing more aggressively, Peplowski never stumbled. Geller attributes a lot of that to hard work. Of the 47 team meetings, practices or indoor training sessions the team had this season, Peplowski missed just one due to a college interview.
She's also a team leader. The captain helped keep things organized at top of the hill so Geller could watch from below and get a feel for how his skiers were doing. Teammate Emma Pizzuto said Peplowski was always keeping the team focused.
"She had a lot of drive and she definitely has a lot of passion for this sport," Pizzuto said. "If you're having a bad practice and can't seem to finish the course, she's always one to bring up your spirits."
Pizzuto faced the same struggles in slalom as her teammate, and she said Peplowski always told her to calm down, remember the basics and "stop being a mental head case." The sophomore had her best results of the year in the discipline, finishing a season-high sixth in the first slalom.
Pizzuto said her former teammate and friend will be sorely missed next year. Peplowski isn't sure where she'll go to college, but she hopes she can join a club ski team wherever she is.
Peplowski leaves Berkshire County as a champion.
"The fact that it was so close makes it even more exciting," she said. "I know I had to work for it and put in the time. It's exciting to get the accomplishments after so many years of hard work and competing."