Switzerland’s Sarah Meier skated off the amateur stage in January and headed into the world of professional skating, taking with her the European title, one of the most coveted crowns in the sport.
It was a fairytale ending to a 15-year career. Winning Europeans had always been Meier’s biggest dream and claiming gold on home soil made the moment that much sweeter.
The victory, the first for her nation in 30 years, made Meier an overnight sensation in Europe. She described the numerous interviews and magazine photo shoots in the days that followed as a whirlwind. “It was all so surreal,” she said. “I had not had a day off for so long and I was tired and a little bit stressed.”
As Meier prepared for her performances in “Art on Ice” in Zurich the following week, she had still not absorbed her accomplishment. “It has not sunk in yet. It all seems so far away right now,” she said. “It was all so stressful in between but I hope that I will have the time to sit back and relax and enjoy it. But right now, I have not realized what it is I achieved.”
Long before 2011 Europeans, the eight-time national champion had decided the competition in Bern would be her last. The final three years of her career had been plagued with injuries, which often made it impossible for her to compete.
Last season Meier was forced to withdraw from Skate Canada after injuring herself while executing a triple Lutz, a jump she had been landing since age 12. After placing a disappointing 15th at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Meier hit rock bottom a month later when she failed to qualify for the free skate at Worlds.
But the lure of Europeans being staged in her homeland gave Meier a reason to rally for one final season.
She is unsure what her professional future holds but is optimistic. “Hopefully I will get some invitations to skate in shows,” she said. “I would be happy to go anywhere to perform, but I am not really expecting anything, because I did not expect to place so well at Europeans. I think my chance to do shows is not really very good, so I will enjoy everything right now.
“It will be a bonus if I can do more shows but if not, I am happy with my medal.”
When asked what she would remember most from her career, Meier smiled. “Other than winning in Bern, there were so many special moments I can’t name just one. To participate in the Olympic Games and the medal I won at Junior Worlds 10 years ago. That was my first international medal and totally unexpected also.
“When I look back I am also proud of the two silvers I got at Europeans in 2007 and 2008. At the time I was not really happy about those medals, but I am now.”
Originally published in June 2011