Vail Nordic skier Haley Brewster wins Jr National Championships 5k
By ending this season with a win, Haley Brewster just became a source of motivation for her team heading into next year.
At the The U.S. Cross-Country Junior National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 13, Brewster, 15, surprised herself and her teammates by winning the 5k individual start skate race in the U16 division.
As the championships continued throughout the week, coach Eric Pepper said Brewster’s success set up the rest of the team well.
“There’s a lot of belief, then,” Pepper said. “Like ‘I’ve competed with that person all year, I know that I can also do that level.’”
As the week went on, Brewster’s teammates who compete alongside her notched impressive results, as well, with Elsa Perkins taking third in in the U16 5k mass start classic and Emma Reeder taking fifth in the classic sprint.
“For those U16 girls, three different girls to get a top-five during the week is really, really impressive, and as a group demonstrated how strong they are,” Pepper said. “There’s a lot to be said for how that sort of thing can have a positive effect on the group, not only (at junior nationals) but all summer, all fall, all next year. It’s such a good way for us to end as a club, and as a group of individuals.”
Junior nationals marks the end of the 2018-19 competition year, for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Nordic skiers, but the off season is short.
Training starts back up again on May 1.
That’s another reason why the strong results at the end of the season are particularly motivating, Pepper said.
“To get you that taste at the end of the year — and go oh yeah all that hard work, all that effort, it was worth it — that goes a long way for everybody,” Pepper said. “It’s a long, hard season, and while different people are going to find success in their own way, to have some success really helps. It’s a pretty hard sport.”
Pepper said the fact that the U.S. Cross-Country Junior National Championships occurred in Alaska this year was also a motivator for the dozen or so Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes who qualified for the event this year.
“Anchorage as a city is ringed by big mountains, so kids were doing trips to Girdwood or Alyeska,” Pepper said. “And Kincaid Park is an amazing venue so there were a lot of spectators and parents there.”
Haley Brewster’s mother, Kimberly Brewster, made the trip from Colorado to Alaska to watch her daughter compete.
“We were very surprised when she came in first,” Kimberly Brewster said. “There was some very fast kids from all around the country.”