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Meet the Athlete:
Blair Mertens a Skiing and Running Phenom

By Ty Tilden

Meet the Athlete:
Blair Mertens a Skiing and Running Phenom

A skier at heart and a runner by trade, Sandy High School senior Blair Mertens works hard to juggle his time between the sports he enjoys most. Mertens has skied competitively for SHS and is an active varsity member of both the track and cross country teams at the high school.

“My parents signed me up for ski lessons at a young age and I didn’t do it for a while [after that] but then I started again in middle school because my friend was doing ski racing,” Mertens said of his debut onto slopes.

While his skiing journey began with organized practice and eventual competition, running was a different story.

“During the COVID pandemic, I would just go in my backyard and run around and around and around. It was kind of meditative so I was just like ‘that’s kind of cool, maybe I’ll join cross country,’” Mertens said.
And just like that, Mertens, who at the end of the 2023 season was ranked second in his team, became a runner.

“The thing about cross country is that running is really good for you. It’s enjoyable, it’s good for your mental health too. You can’t take it too seriously. Obviously you want to try hard though,” he said.

As for his skiing career, Mertens has found solace in stepping away from the competitive aspect. “I [raced] last year, but I’m not this year. I love skiing, I don’t love ski racing. Ski racing is kind of boring, you just kind of sit in line,” he said.

The delineation between competitive skiing and running for cross country and track for Mertens is in the reward. The thrill of flying down the mountain is the allure of skiing, and the sense of achievement is largely the benefit of running.

“I get a sense of accomplishment. And to just go for a run, you feel like you did something; you did something to better yourself,” he said.

Mertens puts it candidly: “Running kind of sucks.”

But despite the difficulty that often comes with pushing one’s body to its limits for miles on end, Mertens still strives to find the meditative sense in the sport, and to experience the reward it has to offer. And as for skiing? The joy of cruising downhill is enough to make it worthwhile.

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