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USS Names the 2022-23 Long Track Development Skaters of the Year

May 24, 2022, 1:44 p.m. (ET)

USS is proud to announce your Long Track Development Skaters of the Year; Aiden Kye Meacham and Marley Soldan! These skaters were awarded this title based off of their performances during the 2021-22 season. We asked each skater to fill out a questionnaire to get to know more about their speed skating careers, hobbies and so much more! To learn more about Aiden and Marley, read what they had to say below.

 

Name: Aiden Kye Meacham

Age: 15

Club: Colorado Gold Speedskating

Coach: Patrick Wentland

Who inspires you in speedskating?
There are a lot of people that have inspired me in speedskating, but above all though - my coach, Patrick Wentland - is my biggest inspiration. Coach has shared many stories from his racing and coaching days.  He’s taught me that not everything will go as you’ve planned or how you want, and that’s a huge part of the sport, but how you handle those moments and come back from them really defines what kind of athlete you are.

Where will you be in ten years?
In ten years, I will hopefully have represented the USA twice at the Olympics and be working toward earning a spot on my 3rd Olympic team. I also hope to be working on my physical therapy degree.

What other sports do you play?
I also participate in Taekwondo. I have earned my first degree black belt and am currently working towards my 2nd degree.  I plan to reach my Master degree one day.

What are your other hobbies?
I really enjoy watching Formula One racing. I also have the video game and enjoy playing it when I can.

How did you get involved in speedskating?
When I was about 3, I was really obsessed with hockey, but my mom told me I needed to learn how to skate. I started taking the learn to skate classes. On Sundays we would go to the open skate so I could practice. Some speed skaters would come to the open skate before their practice and I would chase them around the rink and once I got too far behind, I would cut the ice to catch up. I joined the club and for a while, it was just a thing to do on Sundays. About 4 years ago, Patrick started coaching our club and I started actually training and have enjoyed every second of it since.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Before now, I would have considered my greatest accomplishment to have been cycling to the top of Pikes Peak - I look forward to doing it again and improving my time.  Now, I would definitely have to say it’s making the LT Development Team and receiving this honor!

What is your favorite subject in school?
Math. I love finding the right numbers and putting them into the formulas correctly.

What are your goals for speedskating in the next few years?
My goals are to earn a spot on the Junior National Team and to compete at the 2024 Youth Olympics.

What is your favorite exercise during dryland training?
Any type of turn strap is my favorite. There is just so much you can do with it, and it helps with one of the most important aspects of skating - the corners.

What’s your favorite post-race snack?
I have two - the first one is the energy balls I learned to make at the Next Gen Camp and then it’s Welch’s fruit snacks - no other fruit snacks are that good.

Where is your favorite place to race?
I would say the Salt Lake City Olympic Oval because of the facility and how fast the ice is.

What’s your craziest hidden talent?
That’s a tough one - I’ll go with being able to eat large amounts of food only to be hungry again in 30 minutes and the ability to forget an important piece of skating equipment for practices and/or meets…which may or may not have once been my skates.

Anything else you’d like to share?
A big thank you to all the people that have supported me - my family, coaches, teammates, and friends. I would also like to thank US Speedskating for this honor and opportunity to grow as a skater.  I’m very excited to continue this journey towards reaching my dreams!





Name: Marley Soldan

Age: 15 years old

Club: Puget Sound Speedskating Club (PSSC)

Coach: Chang Lee


Who inspires you in speedskating?
One skater who inspires me in speedskating is Choi Min Jeong. She is such an incredibly strong skater with amazing endurance. She shows a certain level of determination that is very moving. I’m also inspired by my teammates and coaches. Seeing how hard everyone works on a daily basis motivates me to be the best skater and individual I can be.

Where will you be in ten years?
To be honest, I’m not sure. Hopefully I’m in school pursuing an occupation that I love. I hope to attend medical school to become a neurologist, but anything can happen which is why I wish to keep my options open.

What other sports do you play?
I do not participate in any other sports at the moment. Speedskating is a very time-consuming sport, which leaves little time for exploring other sports. I used to do inline speedskating, soccer, swimming, and participate in tennis camps, but as I grew older, my schoolwork became more important, I had to choose which sports to continue.

What are your other hobbies?
Music definitely plays an important role in my life. My main hobby outside of skating is playing the piano. I have played since I was 4, and it has become a fundamental part of my life. Even though it can be challenging finding time to practice around school and skating, I really do enjoy it. I also play the cello and viola for my school orchestra. I played cello for half of my freshman year but switched to viola at the start of 2022 because we had no viola players at the time. My other hobby is fostering kittens. In 2020, there was no skating and no in-person school. This meant that I had an infinite amount of free time. Fostering kittens gave me a purpose while also helping me endure the hardships the COVID-19 pandemic created.

How did you get involved in speedskating?
When I was 5 years old, I started roller skating. I instantly fell in love with the sport and community. I competed in inline for the following 6 years. I made some amazing friends who introduced me to to short track. I remember stepping on the ice for the first time thinking, how hard could it be? It was HARD. I tried to crossover and immediately fell down. The moment I fell to the ice I realized that I loved the challenge ice skating provided and that I would continue to skate for years to come.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I would say that my greatest accomplishment is when I won nationals while skating with pneumonia. Despite how miserable I felt, I was so grateful for the amazing opportunity I was given that I just HAD to skate. I remember having tears streaming down my face while I was racing because I couldn’t breathe but smiling my way through every race. I am proud of this accomplishment because when I look back on the memory, I am filled with satisfaction  knowing that I gave my all despite the rough circumstances.

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school is definitely math. I like the challenge it presents, but also the rush of exhilaration that comes after I finally understand a topic that was challenging. I appreciate the fact that math is a subject that allows me to move at your own pace.

What are your goals for speedskating in the next few years?
In the next few years, I hope to make the long track junior world team and qualify for the youth Olympics. I plan to perfect my technique in both short track and long track.

What is your favorite exercise during dryland training?
My favorite exercise during dryland training is slideboard. It definitely burns, but that is what makes it a fundamental exercise in our training. I enjoy being sore the day after a hard practice because I know it’s a part of becoming a better skater.

What’s your favorite post-race snack?
My favorite snack to eat after a race is probably fruit. Sometimes it is hard to get fresh fruit when we are traveling, so I usually enjoy eat fruit snacks or goldfish.

Where is your favorite place to race?
My favorite place to race is Roseville, MN. I’m not really sure why. I definitely don’t get PBs on that ice, but every time we travel to Roseville, I have a lot of fun. I enjoy how unpredictable the ice is, and how you never really know what conditions you will encounter.

What’s your craziest hidden talent?
My craziest hidden talent is that I can recite over 100 digits of pi. I have a competitive nature, so in 3rd grade when everyone was trying to memorize the first 50 digits on pi day, I decided I had to best everyone and memorized 100 digits that night. Ever since then I have been adding 2 or 3 digits to my memory every year.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made participating in this sport a unique and amazing experience. The speedskating community is comprised of so many compassionate individuals, and I am grateful that I get to be surrounded by such a supportive  group of people. I would also like to thank Coach Lee for creating such an awesome team. Coach Lee creates amazing skaters who perform well on and off the ice. He  pushes his skaters to be the best athletes they can be while also heavily emphasizing how important school is. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of such a wonderful team.