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Cross-country skiing: Utah well-represented at championships

Published January 5, 2013 5:25 pm

Cross country • Park City native, U. senior among top finishers at Soldier Hollow.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Soldier Hollow • Rosie Brennan has enjoyed her time back in Utah.

Halfway through the U.S. Cross Country Championships, the Park City native has been able to see friends, sleep in her old bed, and enjoy some home cooking.

She's also been up on the podium twice in two races.

"It's great to have [the nationals] back in Utah," Brennan said.

The 24-year-old isn't the only skier with Utah connections performing well at Soldier Hollow this week.

University of Utah senior Miles Havlick stood in the sunshine and cold last week, waiting for race officials to announce a decision. After finishing with the sixth-best overall qualifying time Wednesday, Havlick found himself in a photo finish in his quarterfinal race. If he came in fourth, he would be eliminated — third, and he would move on.

The race volunteer scribbled a red "3" next to Havlick's name.

"Barely," he said with grin.

Plenty has been going Havlick's way lately.

After being named Ski Racing magazine's men's nordic collegiate skier of the year in 2011, he followed by winning the honor again in 2012.

"I sent them back home with my parents," said Havlick, who hopes to have a shot at winning the honor for a third time, when the Utes' season starts next week.

Former University of Utah ski team member Torin Koos is also having a good run at nationals. The three-time Olympian flashed a wide smile atop the podium last week after finishing first in the 1.3-kilometer sprint.

"I've been doing races here forever," Koos said after his win. "I had my first college races here, my first World Cup here, my first Olympics here. ... I was looking forward to coming back. It's kind of like coming full circle."

But arguably no skier is having a better nationals than Brennan.

The Park City High graduate began cross-country skiing in middle school, and has steadily risen through the nordic skiing ranks. She skied at Dartmouth and, after graduation, began skiing with Alaska Pacific University's Nordic Program — the best women's team in the country.

There she trains with Olympian Kikkan Randall and U.S. Ski Team member Sadie Bjornsen, to name a few.

"To have that sort of depth on the team, to have those people to look up to and help push me is something that has really helped," Brennan said.

It's shown so far this week at Soldier Hollow.

After finishing in third in the 1.3K sprint, Brennan started the 10K race a few minutes behind Bjornsen.

"Essentially you're out there by yourself," Brennan said. "You see people and you get a sense of where you are, based on who you're catching or if you're getting caught. ... That's probably to my strength. I have a strong mind, and I'm able to push myself by myself."

Brennan took her first U.S. title Friday, winning the 10K race with a time of 29:12.3, an 11-second margin over second-place finisher Bjornsen.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk —

Top finishers

Women's 10K

1. Rosie Brennan, APU Nordic, 29:12.3

2. Sadie Bjornsen, APU Nordic, 29:23.2

3. Kate Fitzgerald, APU Nordic, 29:50.5

Men's 15K

1. Erik Bjornsen, APU Nordic, 37:02.7

2. Tad Elliott, SSCVail, 37:08.7

3. Matthew Gelso, Sun Valley SEF, 37:18.3

Women's 10K Sitski Adaptive

1. Beth Requist, National Sports Center for the Disabled

2. Tatyana McFadden, University of Illinois

3. Kristy Vaughn, Paralympic Nordic Development Team

Men's 15K Sitski Adaptive

1. Daniel Cnossen, National Sports Center for the Disabled

2. Andrew Soule, US Paralympic Nordic Team

3. Sean Halstead, US Paralympic Nordic Team