Local Jewish ski racer ascends great heights to win PA Governor’s Cup
The Ellis School senior is arguably the best women’s Alpine ski racer in the commonwealth.
Hearing student athlete Grayson Honig describe the thrills of Alpine skiing might make you itch to hit the snowy slopes yourself.
“It’s not just the snow, it’s the speed,” said Honig, 18, a senior at The Ellis School. “It just makes you feel so small when you’re surrounded by those mountains. And, when you conquer them, speeding down the mountain, it’s just great.”
Honig is an excellent ambassador for the sport; the Shadyside resident, who is Jewish and attended Community Day School, recently won the PA Governor’s Cup for women’s Alpine ski racing, arguably making her the best skier of that type in the commonwealth. She also qualified for the Easter Championship races at Attitash Mountain in New Hampshire.
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“It’s so competitive to get it,” Honig told the Chronicle. “There are so many great Pennsylvania players I’ve been competing against for years.”
Honig started skiing at age 4 in Beaver Creek and then fleshed out her skills mainly through the Tiny Tots program at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, her father, Larry Honig, said.
“She loved the snow from Day 1,” said Larry Honig, who runs Techstra Solutions, an IT and tech consulting firm in Squirrel Hill. “And she was always driven to get better.”
Grayson Honig also has cousins who live in big mountain terrain — in Montana and Colorado — and got into the habit of “trying to beat them down the mountain,” she said.
Skiing runs in the Honig blood, her father joked.
“Our whole family skies,” he said. “When I met my wife, it was a prerequisite … If she didn’t ski, I wouldn’t have dated her.”
But Grayson Honig is more than a great skier. She was MVP of her school’s lacrosse team in the spring of 2022 and was the captain of Ellis’ field hockey team when the team won the WPIAL championship.
She plans to play Division III field hockey for the University of Rochester this fall after she graduates from The Ellis School.
One reason Honig chose Rochester is the head of the field hockey program, “Coach Wendy.”
“From the beginning, she really believed in me, as well,” said Honig, who admits her first showing for the University of Rochester was not her best day.
The other students, she said, “all felt so much better than me.”
That, however, did not deter her even for a second. Coach Wendy gave her some pointers and things to work on, and Honig got right to it.
“She really pushed me to work hard,” Honig said. “And I want a coach who sees my potential.”
Honig’s sister, who also played field hockey at Ellis and is a competitive skier, is now attending the University of Denver, where she skies the Rockies.
“All the mountains are just incredible there — you can get lost in the trees,” Honig said. “We have hills here compared to what they have there … You’re hitting speeds of 50-plus miles per hour coming down those mountains.”
Honig is not putting all her eggs into the athletic basket, so to speak. A student council representative at Ellis, she says she’s dedicated to her studies and active in community service and serves as the co-president of the Ellis Athletic Association. She hopes to study data sciences in college.
“Grayson is a natural leader on and off of the field,” said Katie Johnson, The Ellis School’s director of athletics. “She is a good teammate, encouraging the younger athletes to better their skill and leading by example with her dedication and commitment to her sports.”
“She’s got a very bright future, and we’re so proud that she’s such a good ambassador for Ellis.” PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.