Injury, Late Start Can't Slow Speedy Schulte's Finals 3-Peat Pursuit

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

February 9, 2023

Sydney Schulte has been one of the state’s speediest skiers over the past two years, but the start to this season has been anything but fast due to a couple of obstacles.

Greater DetroitThe first came around Thanksgiving, when Schulte, a senior at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, suffered a knee injury during camp that slowed down her start to the season.

But that didn’t turn out to be as big of a deal due to the second obstacle: Weather. 

With one of the warmest Januarys on record and little snowfall, pretty much the entire skiing community got off to a slow start. 

However, with colder and snowier weather in the final days of January and early February, along with more healing for her knee, Schulte is now ready to rock with the biggest events of the season looming in the coming weeks. 

“It’s definitely taken me a little bit longer this season to get into the swing of things,” Schulte said. “But I’m getting there. The injury has sucked. Knees are pretty vital. But I’m excited, and I feel like this is the best time to be firing up.”

Schulte rounding into peak form can’t be comforting to opponents. 

Notre Dame Prep head coach Craig McLeod said Schulte has finished first or second in every dual meet during her career competing in the Pine Knob Divisional against bigger schools such as Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills and Rochester Adams. 

On a statewide level, Schulte has shown she is a “flatlander” from Metro Detroit who can compete with the best from schools up north. 

 Schulte, far left and next to Petoskey’s Marley Spence and Lowell’s Kaylee Byrne, celebrates winning her second-straight slalom championship. Schulte is the two-time reigning Division 2 Finals champion in the slalom, and was first after the opening run of the giant slalom last year before failing to finish her second run. 

Two years ago as a sophomore, Schulte was fourth in the giant slalom.

Having such success against up-north skiers is obviously a great source of pride. 

“I feel like people from the Metro Detroit area definitely have to put in way more work to be successful,” Schulte said. “The travel time and traveling up (north) on weekends. There’s so much work, effort and time that goes into training on snow. All the state meets are up there, and they can ski on (those courses).” 

Schulte said she got into ski racing when she was young, taught in large part by her parents, Allison and Eric, who skied in high school while attending Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes. 

Because she’s done it for so long, Schulte obviously has a big edge on other skiers in terms of technical ability. 

“She has a really good sense of angulation in terms of rolling the ski up on edge with knees and ankles,” McLeod said. “That’s really the magic of what she has got going on, is that she has great angulation, which pays dividends every race.”

Schulte is unsure of her college plans at the moment, but she did say it’s unlikely she will ski competitively at the next level. She said she’ll still ski for fun or on an intramural team. 

Before that though, there is the business of finishing out her high school career and going for not only a three-peat in slalom, but a title in the giant slalom. 

Notre Dame Prep will compete in a Division 2 Regional next at Alpine Valley, where it will be a big favorite to advance to the Final on Feb. 27 at Boyne Mountain. 

Notre Dame Prep saw a streak of three straight team championships end last year, but with Schulte rounding into form, don’t rule out a return to the top for the Fighting Irish. 

“The motivation really comes from being on the team,” Schulte said. “It’s fun being around people that you like. It’s way easier to go to practices and to races if you know your friends are going to be there. It’s really great. Friends are the biggest motivation for me. They want to do (well), and I want to do good. The positive competitiveness helps each person.”

Keith Dunlap

Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Sydney Schulte races down Schuss Mountain during the slalom at last season’s Division 2 Finals. (Middle) Schulte, far left and next to Petoskey’s Marley Spence and Lowell’s Kaylee Byrne, celebrates winning her second-straight slalom championship. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

Notre Dame Prep Takes Back Team Title, Petoskey's Spence Sweeps Race Wins

By Jordan Puente
Special for

February 28, 2023

BOYNE FALLS — Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s girl ski team has dominated the slopes since 2016 and continued the trend Monday at Boyne Mountain.

The Irish placed first at the Division 2 Finals with a team combined score of 61. Petoskey finished runner-up with just four skiers to collect a team score of 87, and Great North Alpine finished third.

Senior Syndey Schulte was Notre Dame Prep’s top placer, finishing runner-up in slalom (1:09.19), and she was followed in that event by senior Peyton Schindler in fourth and senior Claire Kirchner in seventh. Kirchner was fourth in the giant slalom, and Schulte was seventh as the Irish placed four among the top 13.

“We had a great bunch of girls that skied well,” Norte Dame coach Craig McLeod said. “These girls show up to training every day and pay attention to what we’ve asked them, and they do it.”

Schindler has racked up tons of medals during her time at NDP, having helped the Irish win Division 2 championships during her freshmen and sophomore years before they finished sixth a year ago.

Notre Dame Prep’s Sydney Schulte caps her career with two more top-10 Finals finishes.“It’s nice to have new faces, and it’s cool to see all of our hard work come into culmination of this,” Schindler said.

McLeod couldn’t be more pleased with the way his team performed at its Regional and the Finals. As he talked about his team, he was emotional knowing what this win meant to the Irish.

“The girls have won everything they touched,” McLeod said. “I have an amazing group of senior girls, and I’m proud of all the things they have done.”

Petoskey senior Marley Spence swept the giant slalom (1:14.91) and slalom (1:06.78). Spence also won giant slalom and was second in slalom as a junior, and she became the 12th skier in Finals history to win girls giant slalom at least twice.

"I cried," Spence said when she found out she won. "I ran to my parents and shed a lot of tears.

"All the emotions come in here, and it's been building out for weeks, so I'm shocked but happy," she added.

Spence was one of the four skiers who helped her team to a podium finish. Before they found out they were runners-up, Spence didn't think they'd get a team win with just four skiers – but Petoskey defeated the odds.

Cadillac senior Georgette Sake finished seconds behind Spence in the giant slalom with a combined time of 1:15.65. Cadillac as a team finished third with multiple top-10 placers in giant slalom.

"I enjoyed my four years at Cadillac," Sake said. "I don't think of skiing as a sport. I think of it as a family. The ski community is so great and cool."

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PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Marley Spence speeds through one of her runs on the way to winning both individual championships Monday. (Middle) Notre Dame Prep’s Sydney Schulte caps her career with two more top-10 Finals finishes. (Click for more later this week from Sports in MotionDivision 2.)