KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia — Alexa Brabec earned a silver medal on Friday at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships at Planica in Slovenia in the individual Womens’ Nordic Combined HS102/5k.
The 19-year-old, who attends the University of Utah, refers to Park City as one of her homes-away-from-home as she hails from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC).
She told Townlift, “I’m so excited with my results today and I have so many people to thank, I don’t know where to start. It was great to do it with my friends here and in front of my family.”
Nordic Combined has athletes ski jump in the morning then cross country ski racing in the afternoon. The farther one jumps, the more they get a time advantage to begin skiing ahead of their competitors. It’s called a Gundersen Start. The following video shows how it works and illustrates how much time and distance a nordic combined athlete often needs to make up. Park City’s Ian Carmack is seen towards the back of the line and it was taken later in the day after Brabec’s race when the men skied after jumping.
First place for the women went to Finland’s Minja Korhonen. Brabec was behind by only 1.5 seconds at the finish line, and third was Germany’s Ronja Loh at 11 seconds back from the winner.
USA Nordic teammate Kai McKinnon from the New York Ski Education Foundation (NYSEF) placed sixth in the Women’s Nordic Combined race, Haley Brabec, Alexa’s younger sister came in 26th, and fellow U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team member Ella Wilson ended up in 27th. McKinnon spends a remarkable amount of year-round training and competition days in Park City. She’s only 15 years old.
Brabec jockeyed for position in the last stretches of the ski course keeping her Mom, Jill, and Dad, Dan, practically breathless with excitement. Having two daughters representing the U.S. in an international nordic combined competition is a special rarity, and landing any woman on the Nordic Combined podium at Jr. World Championships had never happened until today.
Mom, Jill is utilizing not just her personal passion for the sport community and wishes for her daughters to continue thriving, but her acumen as an attorney to rally robust, actionable, national and international support towards women’s nordic combined in the Olympic Games someday as it’s the only winter sport without women’s inclusion.
Dad, Dan is on board with the movement too, that is when he get’s free time from having taught both daughters as the High School Physics teacher. Jill is an omnipresent volunteer at the Utah Olympic Park events, and Dan has volunteered as a chaperone for weeks-long sport camp shared experiences between Park City and Steamboat Springs.
The sisters’ regular Coach Karl Denney wasn’t present as he traveled back to the states to welcome his brand new baby with his wife back in Steamboat Springs. Park City Ski and Snowboard (PCSS) Coach Michael Ward coached Brabec to this second place in Planica.
Brabec wasn’t immediately available for a video interview following her podium ceremony because she had to literally run back over to the jump hill to compete, yet again on the same day. She ski jumped in the morning, cross country skied in the afternoon, then in the evening, she soaking wet from unrelenting rain, was the fourth woman of a four woman team of ski jumpers for the team event. Even though Ski Jumping isn’t her official sport discipline, Nordic Combined is, Team USA was one of half the field allowed to borrow one of their teammates to fill out the team.
Here’s a video of her team ski jump.
Brabec and her teammates, including Josie Johnson from Park City who is a student at the Winter Sports School came in ninth after the first run excluding them from continuing as the rules of Team Ski Jumping only allow for the top eight teams to jump in the finals.
The FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships were held in Whistler, Canada last year and were held in Park City and Midway’s Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in 2017 where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were hosted by the Zermatt Resort.