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Auburn man speeds to M5 title

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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When Bradley Meister sets his mind to on a goal he sees it through. Meister of Auburn, has a PhD in engineering, is a Navy Captain in the reserves, a pilot and even a Christmas tree farmer. Now he can add one more accomplishment to that list, a US Ski and Snowboard Association Overall National Speed Series M5 Championship title. Meister finished first with 125 points, beating out Michael Braun of Mammoth, all in his first season to boot. “There is a certain process you apply to something like that (attaining a PhD.),” Meister said. “I said what happens if I apply that same process to ski racing.” Meister, who skied in the Far West Division in high school, skied only recreationally throughout most of his adulthood. After a four-year hiatus to build his Christmas tree farm in Cool, Meister was inspired by the 2010 winter Olympics to put his speed skills to the test against some of the fastest 45-49-year olds in the nation. In true Meister fashion, he immersed himself in his goal. First he drew upon his knowledge in aerospace engineering. He also watched tape after tape of Olympians like Lindsey Vonn and even consulted some U.S. ski team members. Meister, who works out at Courthouse Athletic Club in Auburn said building strength in his legs was a key factor in his win. Going into the season he could squat 400 pounds. Meister believes that strategy and a little luck were responsible for his win. “I feel really honored to kind of be on the board with these guys. These guys are pretty hard-core. Some are former U.S. Ski Team members,” Meister said. “I think there is a little bit of luck involved.” In order to win the overall title Meister had to earn the most points in a series of 14 races held all around the U.S in famous ski resorts like Aspen, Colo. and Park City, Utah. He did that by consistently taking third or fourth places finishes in races where speeds can reach 80 miles per hour. Meister often visited Start Haus in Truckee for ski gear, which attracts many high-profile skiers. There he met Marco Sullivan and Daron Rahlves from the U.S. Ski Team who gave him some advice. Start Haus manager Mike Nash said Meister should be proud of his finish this season. “We are in the Far West Division. There is also a Rocky Mountain Division, a New England Division and others. Usually when you go to nationals it is the top tier from each group,” Nash said. “It’s an exceedingly high level and a real great accomplishment.” Besides watching footage of their races, Meister hung pictures of U.S. Olympian Skiers Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn in his Sacramento office, where he works for the state as a researcher and engineer for more efficient energy. Co-worker and fellow engineer Donald Kazama of Sacramento said he saw Meister’s goals begin to take shape day by day. “I saw his run up, anxiety and flush of glory,” Kazama said. He also joked, “I just told him now don’t think Lindsey Vonn can’t still ski the pants off you.” Joking aside, Kazama attested to the fact that Meister is as tenacious about skiing about his work. “He is a very determined individual,” Kazama said. “He will work very hard toward any type of goal.” As for next year, Meister isn’t sure if he wants to defend his USSA M5 title. “I’m not sure if this is something I want to do again next year,” Meister said. “I might just want to go back to skiing recreationally.” His championship did open up the opportunity to be a part of U.S. Nationals as part of the race crew. If he decides to go, Meister will be part of the team that skies the course to get it ready for the race. While his goal this year may have been to win the title, it is his passion for skiing that kept him going in rattling conditions, which many racers backed out of. “There is just a real thrill to me,” Meister said. “Riding the rails around the turn, feeling the freedom and command of the skies. Whatever is on your mind, you just kind of put that aside and just kind of lose yourself.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.