Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul third on Sunday for her first World Cup XC skiing podium

Hailey Swirbul, right, stands on the podium after finishing third in Sunday’s 10k race in Davos, Switzerland. American teammate Rosie Brennan, middle, won the race. (Photo courtesy of Modica/NordicFocus).

In only her 19th World Cup start, Hailey Swirbul made quite the statement. The 22-year-old Basalt High School graduate and AVSC alumna on Sunday made her first career podium, taking third in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle in Davos, Switzerland.

To make it even better, her U.S. teammate, Utah’s Rosie Brennan, won the race for her second victory in as many days. Brennan also won the women’s sprint on Saturday in Davos, the first two World Cup victories of the 32-year-old Olympian’s career.

“A really exciting and surprising day,” Swirbul said Sunday in a U.S. ski team news release. “I had a split with about 2.5k to go that I was in the running for a podium, so I dug really deep to fight for it. All I could do was give my best and truly left it all out there. The techs and coaches have really helped set our team up for success this weekend and I am truly honored to be part of it.”

Brennan won Sunday’s race with a time of 24 minutes, 49.8 seconds, followed in second by Russia’s Yulia Stupak (25:23.8) and Swirbul in third (25:30.3). Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist, gave the U.S. a third racer in the top 10 by finishing seventh.

This is Swirbul’s third season on the U.S. cross-country ski team, but her first as a member of the A team. She was on the B team a year ago, which included her first World Cup points when she finished 30th in a Dec. 14, 2019, sprint in, of all places, Davos. Her career-best finish prior to Sunday’s podium had been 18th in the season-opening sprint on Nov. 27 in Ruka, Finland. Swirbul finished 19th in Saturday’s sprint.

“When I crossed the line, Hailey was keeping the leader’s chair warm for me and so I knew she must have had a good race, too,” Brennan said after Sunday’s win. “Then when I finally sat down and saw she was going to get a podium, I was just beside myself. Sharing the podium with a teammate is something special. She’s been the one pushing me all summer and keeping me on my toes and really forcing me to broaden my skills so I am just so excited to share this with her.”

With her back-to-back wins this past weekend, Brennan currently sits in first on the overall World Cup leaderboard with 377 points, while Diggins is 13th (141 points) and Swirbul is 20th (88 points). In the current distance standings, Brennan is first, Diggins eighth and Swirbul 11th. Swirbul is currently 21st in the sprint standings, a list also led by Brennan.

In the men’s 15k freestyle on Sunday in Davos, Aspen’s Simi Hamilton finished 38th. He was 14th in Saturday’s freestyle sprint, sprinting being his traditional specialty.

Next up, the World Cup cross-country circuit heads to Dresden, Germany — the site of Swirbul’s first career World Cup start (finishing 41st) on Jan. 12, 2019 — for both an individual and team sprint.