Senior tries out for Junior Nationals

Cece Schmelzle competes to qualify for national Nordic ski team


Carissa Prestholdt

Senior Cece Schmelzle waxes her skis in preparation for her next qualifying meet. The race was on the weekend of Dec. 15-16.

Kaia Myers

Senior Nordic captain Cece Schmelzle said she is trying out for the 2019 Junior National Cross Country Championships team.

“People from the different divisions compete to try out and make their Nationals teams. (The tryout process) entails four weekends of racing in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Those races determine whether I’ll make it on the team or not,” Schmelzle said.

According to Schmelzle, she aspires to qualify for the nationals team because she wants to be skiing with the nation’s top skiers.

“I’ll be hoping to make the U18 Midwest team. I’d love to be one of the top nine because that’s who makes the team, or in the five after that who get to go to a competition in Canada. That would be really fun just to make one of those teams because you’re skiing with some of (the) best skiers,” Schmelzle said.

Nordic co-head coach Doug Peterson said he saw Schmelzle’s times improve after her last race, which will help her confidence increase going into the qualifying races.  

“After our last conference race, she realized that she’s moved up against some of her competitors quite a bit. I think she’s actually seeing that that’s a real possibility to make that team,” Peterson said.

According to Schmelzle, she has been preparing for the races through a rigorous daily training schedule, as well as working with a ski club throughout the year.

“I’ve been training a lot. I usually work out in the mornings and I ski from like 5:45 to 6:45 before school and then I go to practice after school. I get my distance done on the weekends and I also train with my club, the Minneapolis Ski Club, year round.” Schmelzle said.

Peterson said Schmelzle’s additional morning workouts are beneficial for improving her performance.

“She’s been skiing in the morning, which helps a lot. Knowing that we only really have about an hour after school to ski, she’s got to get more skiing in there,” Peterson said.

According to Peterson, Schmelzle is training with a coach in her club who used to coach for Park when they were state champions.

“She’s working with another coach, her Junior Nationals coach, Kevin Brochman, who was an assistant here at Park when we were state champions back in 2003,” Peterson said.

Peterson said Schmelzle is following in the footsteps of several former Park skiers by trying out for the Junior Nationals Cross Country Championships team, including those of her older sibling.

“Liam, her older brother, was involved in it too. Most of our best skiers get involved in it at some point in time. We encourage (trying out for the race) more and more,” Peterson said. “It’s a natural progression when you get to a certain level of skiing that you want to see how you compete with these other groups of people.”

According to Peterson, Schmelzle’s dedication to training for the race makes her a valuable role model to other skiers on the Nordic team.

“(The team) just sees a different level of commitment and that’s important. I also think that they see somebody that is taking their own initiative to make (qualifying) possible and that’s pretty special,” Peterson said.

The 2019 Junior National Cross Country Championships will begin Mar. 11 and take place in Anchorage, Alaska.