Koos and Brennan Collect Honors as FS Continental Skiers of the Year

Audrey ManganApril 25, 2013
Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) and Rosie Brennan (Alaska Pacific University) are our Continental Skiers of the Year.
Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) and Rosie Brennan (Alaska Pacific University) are our Continental Skiers of the Year.

Torin Koos (USA/Bridger Ski Foundation)

When it came time to naming the top domestic-level athlete of 2012-2013, Torin Koos was the clear winner, with few close challengers. As the winner of both the classic sprint and 30 k classic at U.S. Nationals and the SuperTour leader going into the last quarter of the season, Koos was the standout skier on the U.S. circuit in both distance and sprint races.

Former US Ski Team member Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) leading Saturday's 50 k freestyle mass start at 2013 Canadian Nationals in Whistler, B.C. Koos won the race by 0.4 seconds over Brent McMurtry (AWCA). (Photo: Martin Kaiser)
Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) leading the 50 k freestyle mass start at 2013 Canadian Nationals in Whistler, B.C. Koos won the race by 0.4 seconds over Brent McMurtry (AWCA). (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Beyond the U.S. field, Koos was the only American continental cup starter who could translate his World Cup opportunity into distance and sprint points this season — and in Drammen, he was the top American finisher in the classic sprint, placing 18th.

“It’s always a good feeling to finally get a chance again to race the World Cup, and to come through and demonstrate that you are at a world-class level,” Koos said at the time.

He was sick at the end of the season and his top finish in Truckee was seventh (fifth American) in the 50 k Championship, but overall there were few in the U.S. that could keep up with Koos when he was on form. Sun Valley’s Mike Sinnott and APU’s Erik Bjornsen surpassed him in the SuperTour standings at the end of the season, but that was partly because Koos was in Europe for the Aspen and Midwest races.

We would be remiss not to mention that Koos’ results amounted to a pretty redemptive year. Davos, Switzerland, was his first time back on the World Cup in three seasons. Illness in December prompted him to give up his spot in the Quebec City and Canmore sprints to the next guy on the list. The year before, Koos’ disqualification from the U.S. Nationals classic sprint lost him 60 valuable points that could have otherwise gone towards sending him back to Europe much earlier. His exclusion from the World Championships squad this February probably left his 2013 feeling a little incomplete, but Koos was still far and away the most impressive skier on the domestic circuit and for that he is our Continental Skier of the Year.


Rosie Brennan (USA/Alaska Pacific University)

Photo: Swix Sport.
Brennan starting her 2012-2013 season with a win in the 9 k freestyle in West Yellowstone. Photo: Swix Sport.

Rosie Brennan’s skiing began showing signs of advancing to the next level at the end of last year, her first winter out of college, when she finished second in the 10 k classic at SuperTour Tour Finals in Craftsbury, Vt., against a quality field.

“It’s been very up and down trying to figure things out, and I finally feel like I’m coming around now,” she said in Craftsbury.

Fast-forward to eight months later, when she showed up at the season opener in West Yellowstone, Mont., to win her first career SuperTour on day one to kick off an incredibly successful 2013 domestic campaign.

“I guess I must’ve figured something out this summer,” Brennan laughed after the 9 k.

The former U.S. Ski Team member went on to have the year of her life: she won her first national championship in the 10 k skate in January, rose to the top of the SuperTour standings with seven wins by February, got her first European World Cup starts at the end of the season, and came back home to finish on the podium in the 30 k Championship — all while fighting through a nagging back injury. At season’s end, she was still 147 up to teammate Sadie Bjornsen in the domestic points and will be returning to the World Cup next fall as the Continental Cup leader.

It may be an obvious choice to pick Brennan as our domestic-level skier of the year, but the honor is well-deserved.


Honorable Mention:

Graham Nishikawa (CNST/Alberta World Cup Academy), 29, has been competing on the World Cup since 2005, but in December he cracked into the top-15 for the first time in the 30 k skiathlon at home in Canmore, Alberta. He was consistent on the NorAm circuit and was the points leader by early February, and he was brought over to Europe to compete for the Canadian World Championships team for the first time in his career. We place Koos’ season above Nishikawa’s only because the American turned in more performances in the points against a World Cup field.

Graham’s sister, Emily Nishikawa (CNST/Alberta World Cup Academy), was equally impressive amongst the Canadian women. The 24-year-old won four NorAms this season and podiumed a total of seven times, a record that none of her competitors came close to matching. February brought her World Championships debut, as well, and though she may have struggled in Italy she went on to put together a series of decent results at World Cup Finals and expand upon her international experience.


medal-final-layer-2013Previous Winners:


Lars Flora (USA)/Graham Nishikawa (CAN)

Perianne Jones (CAN)/Holly Brooks (USA)


Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)

Brent McMurtry (CAN)


Kristina Strandberg (SWE)

Lars Flora (USA)/Graham Nishikawa (CAN)


Kristina Strandberg (SWE)

Ivan Babikov (CAN)


Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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