Athlete of the Week: Service skier Meredith Schwartz
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Many athletes have a fierce, competitive edge that puts them over the top, but Service High School standout skier Meredith Schwartz will beat you with kindness.
“I think [she’s] too nice,” Service head ski coach Jan Buron said with a laugh. “Sometimes if you’re racing you have to be a little bit, maybe mean, but she is so nice.”
But being too nice hasn’t prevented Schwartz from seeing success on the snow, as she was named the 2021 Girls Skimeister after her state championship performance in the five-kilometer classic as a sophomore in February. Even after being tabbed the best all-around performer in Alaska, Schwartz is just beginning to hit her stride on the skis.
“Well, I used to actually not be competitive at all and I used to only like training,” Schwartz said outside of the Service High School trails. “I didn’t really like to race because I didn’t like the competitive aspect, but I kind of just figured out how to be a little bit more competitive and get in there.”
Helping her get to that point was her mother, Alison Arians, who also was a state champion skier for Service before competing for Dartmouth College.
“I used to be really stressed out about racing and one thing that really helped was my mom actually started racing, because I would go up to her before the races and be like, ‘Ahh, I am so nervous, what should I do?’ and have a meltdown,” Schwartz said of her mother, who has competed in the Tour of Anchorage ski marathon and Besh Cup series. “It is so nice to have a role model and someone who I can be a little competitive with, but we still love each other at the end of the day.
“I think maybe this year will be one of the years where I am actually solidly ahead of her, but it is TBD at this point, we still haven’t really raced each other yet, so we’ll see.”
That type of growth has been visible to those around Schwartz over the years.
“I think she is more confident,” Buron said. “I think confidence is part of the game and she is confident, and you can see it in each workout, she just trains hard.”
Skiing for most of her life, the sport continues to shape Schwartz on and off the trails.
“I have struggled a little bit with self doubt, especially after last year and my results,” Schwartz said. “I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to perform as well, or that was my ‘peak’ moment, but I pushed through, I just kept training. I reminded myself that I joined skiing because it was fun, and that is what is going to keep me skiing the rest of my life.”
At the opening prep ski race of the season earlier this month, Schwartz coasted through the 2.9K freestyle course at Kincaid Park in 8 minutes, 14.6 seconds, almost 40 seconds ahead of second place. She will look to become the 11th girls skier in Alaska high school history to win the Skimeister award multiple times when the 2022 state meet takes place Feb. 24 to 26 at the Birch Hill Trails in Fairbanks.
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