As A Hockey Player, Greta Myers Liked Going Fast. Now She’s Thriving As A Speedskater
by Nicole Haase
Growing up in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, meant Greta Myers quickly became as comfortable on ice skates as she was on dry land. By the time she was playing hockey in high school, she was addicted to the feeling she had when she was on the ice.
“It makes me so happy either being at the rink or on a lake,” Myers said. “It just feels like my home. And it’s honestly the best feeling for me just to be gliding on pure ice, going fast. I really love it.”
Until that point in high school, Myers hadn’t considered any on-ice options other than hockey. The sport was ingrained in her, even if there were parts of playing the team sport that sometimes chafed. Then a local coach invited her to try speedskating, and everything changed.
Speed skating combined what she loved about hockey with what she’s learned about herself.
“Hockey is a pretty big part of who I am. I love the sport. I love the competitiveness,” Myers said. “But what I really loved about hockey was going fast.
“I kept doing both for a while, but it was kind of a lot. Eventually, I faced a really tough decision between the two, but I decided that skating was a better fit for me. With speed skating I like that I can have more control over my success. It’s very self-focused.”
If Myers’ results the past year are any indication, she made the correct choice.
In 2022-23, she competed in five World Cups, set Junior National Records in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m, and ultimately earned four medals at the World Junior Championships, including Overall Silver. Now, at 19, she’s the youngest of the 14 skaters [CM1] on the U.S. Long Track National Team.
The soft-spoken Myers is pretty mellow when she’s away from the sport. She spends time with friends and family but also enjoys unwinding with activities that can be quite introspective — cooking, baking, reading and painting. It’s quite a contrast to the competitiveness that pushes her in training and on the ice.
“Something that makes me stand out is my drive and my dedication to bettering myself and also the joy that I find in improving,” she said. “I think that it’s something that will take me really far.
“I find the pain in pushing yourself really satisfying and rewarding. As much as it sucks in the moment, when I stand up from doing it, I think, ‘That was really good.’ Every time I do that, I want to push harder the next time.”
Skating with the National Team puts Myers alongside many of her skating idols, including Olympic medalists Brittany Bowe and Erin Jackson. It’s a bit surreal for her but skating alongside and against them all year long helps her become an even better skater.
Being in an individual sport where you train alongside teammates who you also compete against has been an interesting and sometimes difficult dynamic to navigate, but Myers said she’s learning how and when to flip the switch. The competitiveness appeals to her, but she loves that as soon as the races are over, the teammates go back to supporting and encouraging each other.
“It’s great because a lot of them are a lot older than I am and they’re more experienced in the sport,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to skate behind them and learn from the things they do well. It’s super helpful. It’s really great for pushing yourself, and it’s also good practice for team events when you can follow other skaters because you learn to copy their timing and technique, so you are the most efficient behind them.”
The transition from hockey to speed skating has been difficult at times. The most challenging part, Myers said, is now focusing so much on the details of her skating — where she holds each body part, the mechanics of her stride and placement of her skates. In hockey, she said, generally when you worked harder, you got better. But that’s often not the case in speed skating. Yes, she has to be strong and have great endurance — particularly since she skates everything from the 500m to the 5000m — but that’s not even half the battle.
“Speed skating is almost purely a technical sport,” Myers said. “In order to go fast and be efficient, you need to have good techniques. My mental approach is centered around that. If you don’t focus on technique and replicating in races what you’re working on in practice, you’ll revert back to bad habits and you won’t go as fast as you’re capable of.”
Myers continues to focus on learning and improving her technique so that her movements become second nature, making her more efficient and capable of holding her seat and achieving higher speeds consistently. After excelling at the Junior level, her immediate goals are to make it into the A group and qualify for the 2023 World Championships with an eye on the long-term goal of competing at the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milano and Cortina, Italy.
To do that, she knows she needs to put in the work and gain the experience she needs to succeed and earn gold. That’s where her love for putting in the work and feeling invigorated, not beat down by a really difficult training session, are going to serve her well.
“It’s a hard sport,” she said, “but it’s so rewarding.”
Nicole Haase is a freelancer for USSpeedskating.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.