Despite not winning a medal, Rosie Brennan finds success in Beijing |

Despite not winning a medal, Rosie Brennan finds success in Beijing

Cross-country skier went from a difficult 2018 Olympics to competing in six events in 2022

Brendan Farrell
Park Record
Rosie Brennan competes during the women's 30-kilometer mass start freestyle cross-country skiing competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 20 in China. Brennan placed sixth in the event.
Aaron Favila/AP

PARK CITY, Utah — Skiing alone in the woods is therapeutic for Park City cross-country skier Rosie Brennan.

After a busy Winter Olympics where she narrowly missed out on winning a medal multiple times, the solitude was where she could begin to process her experience before the World Cup kicked back into gear.

There aren’t feelings of disappointment, but there are still plenty of emotions to work through.

“It’s an event that you wait a long time for, and there’s six races that I did, so that’s six wildly different experiences that I had over the course of this month,” she said. “It’ll take some time, but there were certainly some things I was really excited about and some things that I wish had gone differently. And I don’t know, I think that’s maybe just the case for life — nothing’s all good or all bad.”

On the positive side, Brennan’s trip to Beijing went much more smoothly than her appearance in South Korea in the 2018 Games. Brennan only raced in one event in those Olympics: the women’s skiathlon. She wasn’t feeling well, and it showed on the course. Brennan finished 58th out of the 60 skiers who finished.

She was diagnosed with mononucleosis following the Olympics and was later dropped from the U.S. national team. Brennan then worked her way back onto the national team, won her first World Cup event in December 2020 and competed in all six cross-country events in Beijing, which was a huge accomplishment for her by itself.

“To start there four years ago and end up here, that’s bigger picture, and that’s something that I’m immensely proud of,” she said. “Four years is a long time, but it also isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of life. So to turn things around the way I did is something that I’m maybe most proud of in my career.”

Brennan finished in the top six in four of the events, but her best result was a fourth-place finish. While not coming away with a medal was disappointing, she is doing her best to focus on what she could have controlled. She noted that there are lots of variables in every race and that luck plays a role. For example, she said that the heavy winds during the 30-kilometer event made it resemble more of a bike race tactically.

“I felt that I was as prepared as I could have been, and I do think that I was in some of the best shape of my life, if not the best shape of my life,” she said. “There’s not much else I could have done there. With everything I had going for me at the time, I did all I could. And of course it’s like, yeah, it’s a bummer to not have a medal, but when you look at the bigger picture, I think I’m very satisfied with everything I accomplished.”

Like any Olympian, Brennan grew up dreaming of winning a medal, and she had the opportunity to see the Olympics in-person growing up in Park City. She’s 33 now and would be 37 for the Olympics in 2026 and doesn’t know what her long-term plans are yet.

Regardless of the future, she found victories in Beijing beyond winning a medal.

“I finally was in a place where that dream became a goal that was realistic, and I think that’s a really unique thing to experience. I think that’s not something that everyone experiences in their lives,” she said. “That aspect of it, I think, is really cool, that’s why I ski race and that’s why I do this and keep trying because it’s a neat experience to turn something from a dream into a goal into something that’s potentially possible.”

Still, it might take some more skiing in the woods alone to sort everything out.

“Of course, whenever you miss a goal, there’s mixed emotions with it,” she added. “But on the flip side, it would be worse to never have that as a goal, I guess is how I live my life a little bit.”

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