American Woman Takes First Place in American Birkebeiner
Holly Brooks Claims Second Birkie Title
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“I felt good out there,” said Holly Brooks, a cross-country ski racer. “I thought maybe it was my day, and I was able to take it.”
Saturday morning, Brooks snapped on her skis.
“I’ve been here in Hayward for two weeks, just kind of anticipating this and training for it,” Brooks stated.
She was just one of about 10,000 skiers who came from all over the country to compete in the race from Cable to Hayward.
“There are a lot of international teams here this year, and it’s going to be an exciting finish to watch,” exclaimed Eric Maki, a Birkie volunteer.
Brooks prepared herself to take on 51 kilometers of fresh powder.
“The trail was gorgeous. It’s perfect, ideal, winter conditions.” But Brooks admitted, “The snow wasn’t fast with the new snow today.”
Her third year competing in the race, the Anchorage, Alaska native came in with a game plan.
“The first part was just to conserve energy, to ski as smooth as possible,” Brooks explained. “Keep drinking and eating and keeping my body fueled with sugar, in these long races sugar is your friend.”
Then, with about two kilometers left to ski, she caught a train.
“2K is a great distance for me. I’ve had a bunch of top 10’s in the world at that distance, so I wanted to start my sprint at 2K rather than 200 meters,” Brooks told FOX 21.
She rode it all the way to victory, the second win in her three attempts.
“It’s great to have an American win on home soil, and I couldn’t be happier,” Brooks expressed.
When asked how long she trained for the race, Brooks laughed, “Oh, 10 years.”
It was a victory so sweet, it made not only the hours, but the years of practice, all worth it.