Held in Quebec City, the Games featured athletes from across the globe. Though Stewart has skated for years and won events at the national level, this particular competition was special. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “It felt like I was in the Olympics — it was amazing.”
Stewart competed in four races, ranging from 500 to 3000 meters in length. She prefers the longer races, citing the 1000 meters as her favorite. “There were four of us on the ice, and it was pretty competitive,” she recalled. Though she raced well in every event, Stewart said she was most proud of the 3000 meters, which she finished in eighth place with a time of 5:52.95. “I finished with a better time than some of the younger women,” she remarked.
Stewart first began speedskating while living in Germany as a child, but only started competing after moving to Syracuse, N.Y., as an adult. At Hamilton, she was an avid cross-country skier, making good use of the trails on campus. “I got cross-country skis one year for Christmas, so I skied in the Glen every single day until the snow was gone,” she said.
She also remembered the since-removed fitness requirement of skating and performing a hockey stop. Funnily enough, she said, “I didn’t pass the hockey stop test, so I had to take an ice skating class.”
Though she has skated consistently for much of her life, Stewart stepped away from the ice for a few years during the pandemic, when the sport — like many others — was interrupted. But she was motivated to return after hearing about the new coach at her Syracuse skating club, herself a former Olympian who had gone to the previous World Masters Games in Innsbruck, Austria. “That really piqued my interest, and I thought maybe I could do that,” Stewart said. “I made it a goal to get in shape and do it, because the next year was going to be in Quebec City, an eight-hour drive from Syracuse.”
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Off the ice, Stewart teaches German, a job she has done at various schools since earning her master’s degree in German language and literature from Syracuse University. A German major at Hamilton, she first tried out some jobs in the art world before returning to school and continuing her study of the language. Now a high school teacher, she reflected positively on her career in education.
“I like teaching a lot … high school kids are funny and entertaining and never boring,” she said. “It’s a really interesting job.”