A multi-sport sensation
In 2013, Soren Meeuwisse pulled off a rare feat: She competed nationally in two sports. She didn’t just compete; she excelled, winning both a provincial and national championship in mountain biking while earning a top-10 finish at nationals in cross-country skiing. She is one of five nominees for Orillia’s Athlete of the Year for 2013. (DAVE DAWSON/PACKET & TIMES FILE PHOTO)
Soren Meeuwisse dominated the mountain-biking scene both provincially and nationally last year and also competed nationally in cross-country skiing, racing to a top-10 finish at the Canadian championships and earning a spot on Team Ontario’s ski team.
“Soren Meeuwisse is an exceptional athlete, the likes of which we get to see only a few times in our lifetime,” said Michelle Gordon, who nominated the local teen for Orillia’s Athlete of the Year for 2013.
“Soren is an exceptionally hard-working athlete … Her drive and determination are defining qualities and she is able to take challenges in stride and use them to motivate herself even further,” Gordon said.
In mountain biking, Meeuwisse had many highlights, culminating with her finishing first in the U17 expert female division at the Canadian Mountain Bike Championship. She also cycled to top spot at the Tremblant Cup, the Sudbury Canada Cup, the Ontario Mountain Bike Provincial Championship and was first at all Ontario Cup races she participated in.
Meeuwisse, who started skiing at a young age in the Jack Rabbit program at Hardwood Hills before moving up to the Devo team and later to the Platinum program, also had an exceptional winter season on the trails. She finished third in the skate sprints at the Hardwood Ontario Cup, was second in the 7.5-kilometre classic race at the Hardwood Ontario Cup, qualified for the Ontario Ski Team and had top-15 performances in both the classic and skate five-kilometre interval races at nationals. In the 7.5-kilometre skate race at nationals, she skied to a ninth-place finish against the country’s top athletes.
Her drive and determination extend beyond sports; Meeuwisse is also a driven student at OD/Park Secondary School, where she maintains a high-90s average while participating in the school band, “making her an exceptionally talented and well-rounded young lady,” Gordon said.
Meeuwisse is also a mentor and works with young girls on Team Hardwood’s bike and ski teams, often riding with young cyclists Wednesday nights and skiing with younger members of her ski team on winter weekends.
She is “an excellent role model for her peers, younger athletes and my two young children,” Gordon wrote.
Sean Kelly, endurance development coach for the Ontario Cycling Association, has worked often with Meeuwisse and has been consistently impressed with her work ethic, technical ability and determination.
“Soren is without a doubt one of the brightest stars that we have in not only the province, but in the country, that is competing in mountain-bike racing,” Kelly said.
In 2013, Meeuwisse was named a Tier 1 athlete — one of only 14 athletes across all disciplines of cycling between both men and women.
“Her technical ability on the bike is outstanding, while her power output and endurance give her the ability to pull off race wins consistently throughout the season,” Kelly said. “While Soren is an exceptional athlete that performs far above her age and is world-class, she is also a model teammate and fantastic person off the bike.”
Kelly, who predicted the Orillia athlete will reach the podium of the world stage one day soon, said in Meeuwisse’s Team Ontario pursuits, she has performed at a high level, but is also “always the first to help unload equipment, carry bags and share her thoughts on race courses and to engage with and befriend the other athletes she is racing. As an athlete and an individual, Soren is world-class.”
Meeuwisse is one of five nominees for the 2013 Athlete of the Year. The winner is chosen by a 10-member panel of local judges. The award will be handed out during a meeting of city council in early February.
The award was first presented in 1952 after Norm Davis created a trophy for the honour. Past winners include Walter Henry, Bill Watters, Brian Orser, Jerry Udell and Ethan Moreau.
Editor’s note: Five accomplished athletes – Rob Holmgren, Stephen Graham, Chris McIsaac, Soren Meeuwisse and Harry Seaton – have been nominated as Orillia’s top athlete for 2013. The Packet & Times is profiling daily each of these worthy candidates. This is the fourth profile.