Rosie Brennan, a Park City Nordic Ski Club alum, got off to a great start last Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow, finishing in third place in the 1.3-kilometer classic sprint to earn her first podium appearance at nationals.

Friday, the Dartmouth graduate added another first to her résumé her first national championship. Brennan took home first place in the 10K freestyle individual-start race, finishing in 29 minutes, 12.3 seconds.

The next closest skier, Sadie Bjornsen (Brennan's teammate on the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center team), finished in 29:23.2. Another APU skier, Kate Fitzgerald, took third place.

Brennan said she enjoys the solitude of individual-start races, when she is racing against a clock instead of other competitors.

"I prefer individual start races because one of my strengths is the ability to race myself," she said. "I prefer to race my own way and push myself from within."

She said after the third-place finish in the sprint on Wednesday, she had high hopes for the longer-distance race.

"You can never be for sure about how you're doing, but I felt really good and I just wanted to have my day," she said.

She added that the success in the skate ski event was somewhat surprising to her.

"Before this year I had never had much success in skate races," she said. "The work I put in this summer in skating really paid off.


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Brennan was scheduled to participate in one more race at the championships, a freestyle sprint event on Tuesday, after this issue went to press.

She said the event wasn't her best, but she hoped to ride her momentum and do well.

"Considering how well the week has gone, I hope to continue that pattern (on Tuesday)," she said.

In Friday's 15K men's freestyle race, APU racer Erik Bjornsen took home first place. Tad Elliot (SSCVail/Team HomeGrown) finished in second place and Matthew Gelso (Sun Valley) took third.