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It's a storybook ending for Switzerland's Meier

Swiss skater retires after winning Europeans in homeland

Sarah Meier ended her competitive career on a high note by winning gold in Bern.
Sarah Meier ended her competitive career on a high note by winning gold in Bern. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus Reinhold-Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(02/04/2011) - The temperature in the PostFinance Arena in Bern, Switzerland, where the 2011 European Figure Skating Championships were held last week, hovered around the freezing mark, but Sarah Meier will have nothing but warm memories of the event for the rest of her life.

The 26-year-old Swiss skater, who won European silver medals in 2007 and 2008, closed her long competitive career in storybook fashion, winning the title with a solid free skate. Icenetwork.com caught up with her the morning after her victory.

Icenetwork: What are your feelings on the morning after your victory?

Meier: I still can't believe it. I have always dreamed of this moment. It is just like I imagined it to be. It was very emotional, the atmosphere and the crowd were amazing. Because it was my last competition it was even more emotional.

It is the right moment to stop. It is the perfect ending. This was the competition of my life.

Icenetwork: After your victory you said in the mixed zone: "I hope I don't wake up tomorrow and see that everything was only a dream." How was it when you woke up this morning?

Meier: I only got to bed around six in the morning. I have not realized my victory yet because I had to get to the next photo shoot right away. I think only when I am home and wake up quietly will I realize my victory. Now it is still a dream.

Icenetwork: What do you think of the crowd's reaction?

Meier: During the warm-up it was very emotional. It was amazing, it was so loud. I almost started to cry because I was so moved. Normally the Swiss people are a bit reserved, therefore I was overwhelmed. There were so many people I know in the crowd, all the people who helped me. My coach [Eva Fehr, also her aunt] told me to try to get the energy from the crowd. Somehow it worked.

Icenetwork: What was your strategy for the free program?

Meier: I tried not to skate just hold on to the bronze and end up skating too safe. I went for everything. I didn't really think it was possible, but I didn't want to be too cautious. It was a good strategy to go for all or nothing.

Before the free program Stéphane Lambiel came over to me and I told him: "Oh my god, I think I will die. How should I manage that?" Then I had to wait for my program for a long time, because I had to skate last. This was difficult. At the beginning of the program, I was quite calm; I almost feared being too calm, but it turned out to be the right mix between calmness and the ability to attack. I don't know how I reached it. I felt good in my boots. That can make a difference. There is such a thin line between falling, landing and stepping out of jumps. I had a lot of luck on my side.

Icenetwork: Where did you get the strength to give a flawless performance in your last competition in front of your home crowd, as last skater in the competition?

Meier: I cannot explain it. I must have taken the energy from the public. I knew that my physical condition was not bad and that my power should be enough for a free program because I trained well. But it was amazing that all the elements did work.

For example, I had not trained the [triple] flip for two days because I had some pain. I told my coach, "I leave it out now but I think it will work in the competition," and that was true. From the past I knew that I was always best when it really counted.

Icenetwork: You injured yourself at Skate Canada and could not even skate at Swiss nationals. How difficult was it to motivate yourself and come back?

Meier: Even two weeks ago I did not know if it was working because my foot was still hurting. Only in the last two days before the competition was there so much adrenaline that I did not feel the pain any more. I did not feel it during the competition, but it was difficult before. I was sometimes really blocked and did not have the courage to jump off at all.

Icenetwork: What were some of the best and worst moments in your career?

Meier: Worlds in Torino in 2010 was my worst moment because I did not reach the final. Normally the Lutz is my best jump; I can always rely on it. But then I missed it in Torino and injured myself at Skate Canada trying this jump. My best jump had become a problem, I was almost afraid of it. This was bad for my self-confidence.

Another highlight next to this title was the bronze medal at 2000 junior worlds. This was a milestone for me because I had not thought it would be possible. Naturally all three Olympic Games were highlights. I did not get the best placements there, but they were all fantastic experiences. [Meier placed 18th in 2002, eighth in 2006, and 15th in 2010.]

Icenetwork: Will your life change now completely?

Meier: I don't think it will change in a big way. I will be doing shows like "Art on Ice." I am looking forward to skating for the crowd and not for the points. I want to enjoy every second, as I know that this moment is never coming back. I am looking forward to a long vacation which I have never had.

I am thinking of going to university, but I have to think about that thoroughly. I will always remember the sport but the world will go on.

I regret that I didn't really enjoy all of my moments enough, for example, when I won the two [European] silver medals. Now I will try to enjoy every second. There were also hard times but that's sport. Everyone has them. I am a good example of having it pay off in the end, because I didn't give up.