BEIJING, China — Going off the beaten path will come with hardships.
"Definitely isn't the easy path," said Travis Widger, snow sports director at HoliMont Ski Club in Ellicottville.
Two-time Olympian and Ellicottville native Tricia Mangan, 24, certainly didn't take the easy track down to Beijing. She just graduated from Dartmouth with a mechanical engineering degree.
Then she decided to fight for a spot in the winter games by racing independently.
"If you're on the national ski team, it's fully funded," said David Mangan, Tricia's dad. "When you're an independent athlete, you have to arrange that all on your own."
To get the money to go to the winter games Tricia Mangan had to rely on funding from sponsors and Western New Yorkers.
"It's a huge accomplishment, so to do it against a lot of odds is a great thing," Widger said.
And it worked. She placed 11th in the alpine skiing combined, making her the only U.S. finisher in the race.
It's an incredible achievement to Tricia Mangan's family.
"It was super exciting watching Tricia go. That race is so fraught with potential catastrophe, it's like, holy cow," David Mangan said.
It's also the way they see it at the HoliMont Ski Club, where Tricia first joined a racing program.
"Just goes to show that a small community with a lot of support around you can help push you to a level you want to succeed at," Widger said.
It's why Western New Yorkers are now applauding not only Tricia Mangan, but also 27-year-old Hayley Scamurra, an Amherst native and Nichols school alumna.
The forward for the Women's U.S. Olympic Hockey team is bringing home a silver medal from her first Olympic games after the United States lost to Canada 3-2.
"What speaks volumes is just the fact that she stuck it out and was able to get on that team after really taking a longer road to get there," Nichols girls hockey coach Jamie Printz.
Scamurra played for the Buffalo Beauts before joining the U.S. Olympic Team, fighting to get there on her own time.
"She would sometimes come and ask to use our ice, and her dad would run her through drills," said Robert Stewart, athletic director at Nichols.
Going off the beaten path can work.
"She really seemed to want to get to the very top level and wasn't afraid to put the effort and the time in to get her there, and it certainly paid off," Stewart said.
It will always be the work ethic that truly makes an Olympian.