Univ. Communications – There’s a stealthy skier on campus and she’s been winning big. You may not have known this, but the University of Rochester has a serious competitive skiing club – Alpine Skiing. For the last couple of years junior Meredith Pyke has been dominating regional and national competitions as well as helping the team be stronger, faster, and a force to be reckoned with.
Pyke started skiing at age twelve and quickly became very competitive. In eighth and ninth grade her family moved to France and lived near Grenoble, a city at the foot of the French Alps. Pyke did not pass up the opportunity to ski of course, and trained for two years with the Les Deux Alpes racing team.
Throughout high school in Pottstown, Pa, Pyke continued to race, even attending a special ski academy her senior year. She was accepted to several Division I schools but ultimately took a different path.
“Once you’re that competitive it’s just crazy, it takes up your whole life,” she said, “I decided not to go just because I didn’t want to make it my life anymore.”
She chose instead to focus on academics and came to Rochester. Of course, she could not leave skiing behind completely. Joining Alpine Skiing as a freshman, Pyke proceeded to come in first in New York State for both the Slalom and Giant Slalom racing events, competing against nearly 60 girls. The next year she once again won the regional Giant Slalom event, becoming All-American (one of the top fifteen female racers in the country), and came in third for Slalom. Pyke focuses on speed and power as she navigates the mountain and her approach has earned her a reputation.
“I’ve always loved going down the hill as fast as possible, especially in what my teammates like to refer to as my somewhat reckless technique. I have a lot of fun with the team here and pushing myself to perform to the best of my abilities,” she explained. “Having a solid run, where you pushed yourself and had a clean, fast track is the best feeling in the world”
Alpine Skiing consists of about thirty people, with the five best males and five best females comprising the “Varsity Team.” The club trains on dry land all fall, with Pyke running the rigorous practices, and begins to ski at local mountains after winter break. They train three times per week in the spring semester and take overnight skiing trips to race on the weekends.
Even though it is not an official team and they have no coach, the club competes against other clubs as well as against Division II and III varsity teams from the area, including Cornell, Ithaca, and Syracuse. And they’re only getting more serious: Pyke hopes that the entire team will go to nationals in the upcoming season.
Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).
Photo courtesy of Alana Hampton ’11