When Meghan Nick decided to take up Champlain Valley Union High School’s Graduation Challenge, she had no idea it would change the course of her life.
Just four years after hitting the slopes at Lake Placid to get a crash course in how to become a freestyle aerial skier, Nick was back at the upstate New York mountain competing in the Putnam Investments Freestyle Cup as a member of the U.S. World Cup team.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Nick said. “It’s definitely a challenge.”
Nick finished 23rd overall, while Essex’s Kira Tanghe came in 24th.
Nick did not spend her childhood on the ski slopes, dreaming up the twists and turns she now performs off a ramp for the U.S. team. Instead she was a gymnast, competing for CVU and working out at the Green Mountain Training Center in Williston.
A push from Robin Bordeau at GMTC had her and teammates Tanghe and Tyra Izor headed to Lake Placid in late 2013 to take part in the Elite Air Tryout Camp.
“I didn’t know how much I would like it,” the 20-year-old said. “I was in high school and doing gymnastics and I knew once I graduated, gymnastics was kind of done for me. This was a chance to take gymnastics into a different sport.
“I am also an adrenaline junkie.”
The U.S. Ski Team holds the camp annually, looking for athletes that they can turn into aerial skiers. Nick, Izor and Tanghe fit the bill and were quickly invited to become part of the Elite Aerial Development Program.
“They typically like to pick gymnasts because it is easier to teach a gymnast to ski than it is to teach a skier to do acrobatic skills,” Nick said. “It wasn’t that hard to pick up how they do things in the sport.”
Nick decided to make the switch in sports her Grad Challenge, a student project that asks a student to try something new, commit to 20 hours and write a paper about the experience.
“I thought this would be an opportunity,” Nick said. “It turned out I made the development team and it kind of turned into my life.”
The Shelburne native now studies at the University of Utah and works with U.S. national team, while traveling the world competing in World Cup events. Talk about an A-plus on a school project.
“It was shocking at first, I didn’t really believe it,” Nick said. “I went from being a high school gymnast and now I am competing in World Cups.”
Right along side Nick are her former gymnastics teammates, and now fellow Team USA members, Izor and Tanghe. Izor, from Duxbury, and Tanghe, from Essex, are both on the World Cup “C” Team along with Nick.
“We have been friends for 12 years,” Nick said. “Now we get to compete together. It’s a one-in-a-lifetime chance.”
For now, Nick has her sights set on the World Championships later this year and edging toward a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team.
Not bad for a CVU student who thought taking a chance on a new sport would make a good paper. She is certainly writing quite the story.