Peyton Schneckloth’s parents introduced her to the sport of skiing when she was just one. Both ski instructors in Galena, Illinois, they strapped her in and passed down their love for the sport at such an early age, she had no choice but to fall for the slopes.
The Eldridge, Iowa, native also plays volleyball and softball, but skiing is her sweet spot. She craves early morning runs down powdered hills marking the first tracks in the snow before the day fills with other skiers.
Schneckloth races slalom and giant slalom, and feels God’s presence closely on the slopes.
“It’s just me and God on one team,” she said.
However, that hasn’t always been the case.
Her father, Tim, is the FCA Quad Cities Area Representative, and Peyton leaned on his faith until several years ago at FCA Camp when God impressed upon her heart a need for personal relationship. She made a commitment to seek Him and to spend more time in His Word.
"Once I started skiing for Him instead of for myself—look what can come out of that."
Her next season took turns usually reserved for the hills. She struggled to place in the top-five in races, something she would normally achieve with ease.
“I wasn’t really giving it my all and was skiing for myself,” she said.
Frustrated, she pushed harder to train for the national NASTAR Championship in Aspen, Colorado.
Once there, Schneckloth sat in second place after the first day of competition. She stayed there after her first run on the second day as well, but she wanted more; she wanted first.
Back in her trailer before her last run, Schneckloth called a friend from home who helped her relax. As she sat in quiet, realization struck that she’d been skiing without God, leaving Him at the top of the hill when she knew He’s who gave her her talents.
There, she prayed to God and, “asked Him to help me through this race, no matter what happens, so I can just ski for Him.”
Though nervous, Schneckloth stepped up to the gate and glided through her last run.
“I never felt that smooth or fast before,” she said. “Or in control.”
Her run pushed her into first place of her age group’s platinum division.
Schneckloth was floored: “I started crying, and my dad started crying, then my mom started tearing up. It was amazing.”
She then joined the other ladies division winners from all age brackets for the Race of Champions. She prayed once again to stay focused and give her all to God. She placed second with the handicap time, but heard her name over the speakers again as she and her parents loaded up to leave. With a first-place finish in the raw time, Schneckloth was named 2015 overall ladies national champion.
“I could not believe it,” she said. “I still really can’t believe it. Knowing God was there helping me through, and once I started skiing for Him instead of for myself—look what can come out of that.”
Her newfound perspective and approach to her sport includes God rather than going for it on her own.
Schneckloth, who has served at numerous FCA Camps (left image), will pursue a special education degree at Colorado Christian University.
“A lot of my skiing growing up I thought, ‘Oh this is my race, it just needs to be me, I need to go as fast as I can and get as good a time as I can,’” she said. “Finally, I just stepped back and realized I’m not the one who gave myself this talent—it was from God. And if God gave me this talent, why not thank Him? And through thanking Him, play for Him instead?”
As Schneckloth moves deeper into her summer after graduating from North Scott High School, she’s taking her relationship with God to the next level.
“I’m definitely not going to be ashamed of my faith and am going to show Christ through my life a lot more,” she said.
She participated in her school’s FCA Huddle and was on the FCA Leadership Team. FCA Camp has made a big impact on her life, bringing her a different perspective than she’s used to, more recharging and freeing. Most importantly, Schneckloth holds God’s presence close to her heart.
“I have definitely noticed how amazing God’s love truly is,” she said. “Through all this, God being here has been really heartwarming and good to know.”
Photos courtesy of Tim Schneckloth and Peyton Schneckloth