We can’t imagine anything much more exciting than making an event like World Championships for the first time, so we contacted the North American skiers living that exact dream this year. The U.S. Ski Team announced its 16-strong senior World Championships team on Jan. 26, and Cross Country Canada selected nine to its squad. Last Tuesday, the U.S. added Ben Saxton as its 17th member.
Instead of interrogating them with the usual “tell us how you’re feeling,” we decided to pose the following 10 questions to each of the North Americans headed to their first World Championships from Feb. 18-March 1 in Falun, Sweden.
Rosie Brennan, a 26-year-old Park City native who skis for Alaska Pacific University, has been unstoppable in the 2015 season. Described by USST Head Coach Chris Grover as “the number one athlete in the U.S. to beat,” Brennan has dominated the domestic circuit, taking the period one SuperTour leader bib and winning three of four races at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships. In January she achieved her best World Cup results in Rybinsk, Russia where she earned 13th in the 10 k skate and 20th in the 15 k skiathlon. Most recently, she placed 33rd and 32nd in the Östersund World Cup classic sprint and 10 k freestyle.
1. What was the first thing you did when you found out you were named to the World Championships team?
“Well I was not supposed to tell anyone, but my roommate, Sadie [Bjornsen], had assumed what my meeting was about so of course, I walked in smiling, and she started screaming so we cracked a beer, made a toast, and sent a picture to Flora.”
2. What’s been the biggest performance of your career so far? What one race stands out the most and why?
“I think the first time I won Junior Nationals was the event that effected my future career the most. Of course I’m faster now and probably look a little better skiing and have won some much bigger races, but that race showed me that anything was possible. I had only been skiing a few years, didn’t know anyone outside of Intermountain, didn’t know what other girls were fast, but just really wanted to be a skier and had put in a lot of work to catch up to my peers. I just went out on a mission and won as a result, completely shocking myself and probably most people, but from then on knew that hard work was effective and I could do anything if I worked hard enough.”
3. What are you most looking forward to at World Championships?
“I’m looking forward to have my mom and brother there with me!”
4. What’s your biggest motivation while racing?
“I am most motivated by wanting to show that my hard work was worth it, that I did everything I could to go as fast as I could.”
5. Which race(s) do you hope or plan to compete in?
“I do not know which races I will be racing in. I don’t like specializing however, so I would gladly race any of them!”
6. If you could race the team sprint with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“Sadie Bjornsen. She has been a close friend and training buddy since my first World Juniors in 2007. We train really well together, have a ton of fun, and she is always an inspiration to me. I hope someday we will race a team sprint together!”
7. Which world cup skier would you least like to meet in a dark alley (or the final 100 meters of a race)?
“Probably someone from a small, tropical country because it probably means I just had a bad race.”
8. What will be your key to success in Falun?
“Getting in the right mindset and believing in myself.”
9. Finish this sentence: If I made the podium at World Champs __________.
“I would cry for sure.”
10. Name a person who’s had a major influence on your skiing career.
“Erik Flora. I showed up to APU a little beat up and got a little more beat up my first summer, but his positivity kept me believing and kept me coming back. When my father passed away this summer, I didn’t even know if I would keep racing, but here I am headed to World Champs. Erik picked up my pieces and never once talked about racing or the season, but somehow kept me going, reminding me of the daily accomplishments, believing anything was possible, and helping me work through everything I was facing. I have no doubt that I would not be here if Erik was not my coach.”