Junior Olympics crown Brennan again
For Rosie Brennan, winning national titles is becoming an annual occurrence.
Brennan, a JI (top-level) cross-country skier, won the 10 K Girls Classic race at the Junior Olympic National Championships last week in Houghton, Mich.
The Park City High School senior is no stranger to wearing the Junior Olympic crown. Last year she collected a stunning three gold medals and one silver medal, instantly propelling herself from relative anonymity to national prominence on the developmental circuit.
"She’s an up-and-comer," said coach Gordon Lange. "This shows you she can compete with anyone in this country."
Although her trip this year wasn’t quite as storied as last year, Lange was pleased with her effort. Brennan spent all winter proving herself on the snow and the Junior Olympics was just one of many big events. At the U.S. National Championships, she qualified for the Scando Cup, a developmental race series in Scandanavia that only takes the best of the best youth in the world.
Brennan wasn’t the only Park City youth to fare well. Elizabeth Guiney, a J2 who competes with Brennan in both cross-country skiing and running throughout the year, finished ninth in the 5K Freestyle race. The win earned her All-American status (top 10 finish.)
"She really buckled down and prepared for that race," Lange said.
Guiney also took second in the 3x3K relay.
Both Brennan and Guiney are members of the National Sports Foundation (NSF) elite cross-country team. Now in its second year, the program serves as the only one in the area committed to getting Nordic-minded youth to the next level. Other NSF athletes at the event included Parkites Andrew Putt and Kirsten Stray-Gunderson and Ben Page of Salt Lake. In his first appearance at the Junior Olympics, Putt, a J2, took 16th in the 5K Classic.
Lange said that all of athletes performed well and hopes that some of the younger skiers will continue to improve.
"We did so well last year, it’s tough to not do as well, but we had some younger skiers that are going to be really good," Lange said.
Lange is also hoping the success will encourage more youth to try the sport. Right now, he says the NSF has very talented, dedicated athletes, but wants he to see the numbers grow.
"We haven’t had much focus on development and trying to get kids involved," Lange said.
In its early stages, the program was designed to start slowly as it became established, but now Lange would like to work on increasing the participation level and showing interested parents the quality of the program.
"I think we’ll see it grow almost automatically," he said.
Lange added that competitive cross-country skiing still has a long way to go to compete with the world. Once Brennan graduates, her options to continue to develop at a world-class rate is a bit limited, but he hopes as emerging youth get better and better the money from the U.S. Ski Team and other programs will follow.
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