Everything’s coming up Rosie
July 18, 2007
Some might call Rosie Brennan a bit of an overachiever.
With her ticket already stamped to attend, and ski, at Ivy-League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the fall, the 18-year-old recent Park City High School grad found out that she had also made the U.S, Cross-Country Ski Team.
Brennan is no stranger to success, she has won numerous Junior Olympic cross-country skiing titles as well as a number of state titles in track and cross country as a long-distance runner. Still, when she got the call in May asking her to join the B team, or the developmental level of the U.S. Cross-Country Team, she was surprised.
Brennan said that she figured when she committed to ski at Dartmouth, she was concurrently deciding
to forego trying to make the U.S. squad.
"I had a pretty good season but since I decided to go to school, I figured my chances were a lot less," Brennan said.
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Who could blame her choice to go to school? After all, the Big Green are the defending NCAA National Ski Champions in and the promise of such a prestigious education is hard to pass up. Luckily, the U.S. Ski Team has begun to allow developmental skiers to attend school at the same time they are on the team.
"It’s pretty new for the ski team," Brennan explained. "The development team can be part of college or a club."
The A team the Kikkan Randalls and the Torin Koos of the ski world are expected to complete the full World Cup tour, which requires extensive international travel. Brennan will be able to compete with her college team in the winter and then travel to the World Juniors in Poland for a four-race series for the U. S. Ski Team. After that, she’ll return to the states for the NCAA national championships.
If she can balance the demands on her time and body, Brennan will have the best of both worlds. She will have the education, camaraderie and college experience at Dartmouth, while still enjoying the top-notch training and resources of the U.S. Ski Team. Last month, she attended a two-week camp with the Ski Team, training on snow in Mt. Bachelor, Ore., and team building, biking and surfing on the Oregon coast.
Brennan said that she was initially scared to go. She was one of the few younger B team members that could make the trip around their school schedules. But she said those hesitations were quickly put aside.
"The team was really great," Brennan said. "They shared a lot about racing."
She hopes to one day join them on the top-level World Cup team. Right now, Randall is the only woman on the A squad. Brennan says most of the women on the development team have not had the opportunity to earn enough International Ski Federation (FIS) points to make the World Cup team.
"As people go over to Europe more, we’ll move up," Brennan said. "I’d love to get up, and all the other girls are working to get there too."
A lofty goal for a woman who only began cross-country skiing just five years ago. It started out as a way to entertain herself in the winter between soccer and track season. That first year, she didn’t win many races. It wasn’t until her freshman year of high school, when she was in optimal shape from the cross-country running season heading into the ski season, that she started to show the makings of a champion.
That, along with the U.S. Ski Team’s commitment to development programs, is what Brennan said made all the difference. Brennan skied under the skillful eye of Gordon Lange on the Park City Nordic Ski Club in the later part of her young career and benefited from interest from the national team. According to Greg Poirier, director of the Park City-based National Sports Foundation that runs the Park City club, the B team coaches hold camps every summer to train the club coaches and make sure that teams all over the country are on the same page in regards to training and racing styles.
"Developing the clubs for the junior skiers has made a huge difference," Brennan said.
The U.S. Ski Team has also decided to put younger skiers on the B team, so the team can develop the nation’s top athletes, meaning Brennan will have the support as an elite racer as she continues to improve, a luxury that the current A team didn’t have. Poirier said it’s all part of a bottom-to-top effort to make the Americans more competitive in the sport.
" making a commitment to take younger kids on the team, so they can work with them it’s a testament that the development programs are stronger and allows the skier to be in the [U.S. Ski Team] system a bit longer," Poirier said.
Brennan will get a chance to spend time with her new teammates as the team will be in Park City for the next two weeks to work on an off-snow training regimen of roller-skiing, running, strength and conditioning, and physical testing. After that, they head to New Zealand in August for more on-snow work.
She then will prepare for the long trip to Dartmouth for classes, starting in the fall. She says she is excited to work with the coaches at Dartmouth and will still receive guidance from Lange.
"He’s really good with everything," Brennan said. "He knows so much about the sport."
The 2008 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team (age, hometown and club program; * indicates Olympian): A Team Chris Cook (27; Rhinelander, Wisc.; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)* Kris Freeman (26; Andover, N.H.; Andover Outing Club)* Torin Koos (27; Leavenworth, Wash.; Leavenworth Winter Sports Club)* Andy Newell (23; Shaftsbury, Vt.; Stratton Mountain School)* Kikkan Randall (24; Anchorage, Alaska; Alaska Pacific University Nordic)* B Team Morgan Arritola (21; Fairfield, Idaho; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) Rosie Brennan (18; Park City, Utah; National Sports Foundation) Lindsey Weier Dehlin (23; Mahtomedi, Minn.; Northern Michigan University)* Matt Gelso (19; Truckee, Calif.; Auburn Ski Club/University of Colorado) Taz Mannix (21; Talkeetna, Alaska; Alaska Pacific University Nordic) Morgan Smith (21; Vernon, Vt.; Northern Michigan University) Liz Stephen (20; East Montpelier, Vt.; Burke Mountain Academy) Alexa Turzian (18; Sun Valley, Idaho; Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) Laura Valaas (23; Wenatchee, Wash.; Alaska Pacific University Nordic) Lindsay Williams (23; Hastings, Minn.; Northern Michigan University)* Leif Zimmermann (23; Bozeman, Mont.; Bridger Nordic)*