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Alaska skier shares journey to World Cup opener in Finland

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 6:21 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup begins this Friday in Ruka, Finland. Normally the biggest hurdles for American racers are overseas travel and living out of a suitcase for six months, but this season is different as they balance COVID-19 concerns and world-class competition.

Alaska Pacific University skier and U.S. ski team member Rosie Brennan shared what the journey was like from Alaska to Finland to begin this year’s World Cup season.

“Traveling for 30 hours in full PPE is not the most enjoyable way to travel,” Brennan said over email. “It made me really feel for all our healthcare workers putting in long hours day after day with all their PPE on.”

Brennan wrote that she would wait for others to finish eating and put their mask back on before she ate. The Olympic skier added that she and other skiers were tested for COVID-19 two days before they left and again when they landed at a mobile testing site in Finland.

“The hardest part is just not being able to be close to my team,” wrote Brennan. “We are separated into pods so that if we do have an infection on the team, the whole team isn’t taken out of the race.”

Some of the biggest changes compared to previous years on the World Cup according to Brennan are the ability to interact with fellow skiers on a daily basis with no team dinners, meetings or gatherings in the wax truck, all places Brennan spends time with teammates during the season.

“The courses are the same, the apartments are the same, my skis are the same, snow is on the ground, so while there are many new challenges this season, there are also many times it feels the same as it has for the past many years I have raced here,” wrote Brennan.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard have a panel of medical professionals who created protocols for skiers to follow, and Brennan noted they were taken through them extensively before leaving. During the World Cup, skiers fill out a symptom report twice a day, and testing will vary based on the country they are racing in. A complete World Cup racing schedule can be found here. You can also check out Brennan’s blog to find out more about her racing career and life as a professional skier.

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