With her strong 23rd-place showing in the Ruka Triple last weekend in Kuusamo, Finland, Holly Brooks and U.S. Ski Team (USST) coaches have begun discussing the possibility of her racing the Tour de Ski, which begins December 29.
“Obviously Holly had a great mini-tour in Kuusamo,” said USST head coach Chris Grover. “She’s an athlete we’re seriously considering [for the Tour]…she will most likely be invited, for sure.”
The U.S. has more than enough room in its quota (five men and five women) for the addition of Brooks, who is currently racing Period 1 of the World Cup with the start right the International Ski Federation (FIS) awards to Continental Cup leaders from the previous winter. Prior to the start of the season, the USST’s tentative Tour de Ski roster included Andy Newell, Kris Freeman, Simi Hamilton, Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen—tentative because of the impossibility of predicting athletes’ health two months into the circuit.
Teams have to submit their rosters by December 19, the day after the final Period 1 race in Rogla, Slovenia. Brooks’ place in the Tour will ultimately be determined by her staying healthy, her ability to keep skiing like she’s been, and whether she can financially swing the extended stay in Europe. As she is not a member of the USST, and FIS’s Continental Cup money will stop coming in after the end of Period 1, Brooks’ additional travel and living expenses would be entirely self-funded.
Brooks’ consideration for the grueling, nine-event Tour “definitely” came as a surprise to her.
“I had every intention of being here for five-and-a-half weeks, going home for Christmas and going to U.S. Nationals with APU,” she said. “Then, luckily, last weekend in Kuusamo went fairly well—better than expected—and the conversation has come up.”
Entering the Tour would provide Brooks with international race experience that she believes she currently lacks, giving her the opportunity to learn more about competing in Europe each time she starts.
As exciting as the prospect of the Tour is for her, right now she said she has to focus on upcoming races, staying healthy over the next few weeks, and finding out how much, exactly, a change in travel plans would cost her. Besides the charges incurred for delaying a second flight (a snowless Scandinavia already delayed her arrival), living in Europe for an extra three weeks over the holidays isn’t cheap.
“That’s a huge challenge for me, which a lot of other skiers are facing,” said Brooks of the finances.
She is currently getting ready for the city sprints in Dusseldorf, Germany this Saturday and Sunday.
Though the possibility of racing in the Tour is unexpected for her, Brooks said she has thought of racing in the Tour before as one of her career goals.
“The physical and mental challenge, to me, is really enticing,” she said. “Beating yourself up day to day—I love that stuff. That challenge of racing back to back to back—I guess that’s nine backs!—is really [exciting].”
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.