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Updated February 20: Rowmark alumnae Breezy Johnson '13 and Alice McKennis '08 placed 14th and 16th, respectively, in the Olympic women's super-G February 16. Breezy finished as the second U.S. skier, just 1.03 seconds out from the winner, while Alice barely trailed at 1.09 seconds out. It only got better from there: in the women's downhill February 20, Alice placed 5th at 1.02 seconds out from the winner, and Breezy 7th at 1.12 seconds out. Along with bronze medalist Lindsey Vonn, they're part of an impressive downhill trifecta: never before has the U.S. had three skiers in the top 10 of this event, NBC analyst Dan Hicks said during the live broadcast.
Jim Tschabrun, the head women's coach for Rowmark Ski Academy, has no shortage of praise for alumna Breezy Johnson '13. He recalled the exceptional work ethic and focus she brought to every task, whether it was conditioning, reviewing video, or inspecting equipment. "I often 'caught her' doing something extra," he said. "She outworked everyone, not only at Rowmark but at any elite club or academy." Breezy's talent and dedication yielded impressive results as a teenager—she medaled in three U18 National Championships—and now she's competing at the highest level: this month, Breezy will represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, along with fellow Rowmark alum Alice McKennis '08.
Breezy's ascent in ski racing stems from the work ethic Coach Tschabrun identified, along with a "willingness to dissect her own attributes to determine strengths and weaknesses," which made her unique among athletes he's coached. While at Rowmark, Breezy took it upon herself to supplement her ski training with gymnastics classes and soccer drills that targeted specific skills she wanted to improve. Both Coach Tschabrun and Rowmark Academy Director Todd Brickson commented on her resilience and psychological fortitude as well. In particular, they recounted how years ago, after a horrific crash off a jump at the top of the Super-G course at Mammoth Mountain, Breezy came back the next day to race the same course and win her age group. "She's truly remarkable," Mr. Brickson said. "I have a feeling this [Olympics] is just the tip of the iceberg."
As much as she impressed her coaches, Breezy called her time at Rowmark the hardest thing she ever did. She credited the academy and Rowland Hall with helping her develop resourcefulness and critical-thinking skills and said that she's continued to grow as a professional athlete because of how she trained in high school. Breezy has affection and gratitude for her former coaches. "They provided humor and comfort on the tough days, a smiling face on the good days, and the harsh truth when necessary, too."
Breezy is among the youngest members of the U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team, and with a recent fourth-place finish in the Garmisch World Cup Downhill, a podium finish at her first Olympics is not out of reach. Regardless of what happens in the downhill races—tune in 7 pm (MST) Tuesday, February 20, to find out—Breezy understands the significance of being an Olympian. She offered the following advice to aspiring athletes: "Remember that to valiantly try at something so difficult is more than most people will ever attempt, and that true attempt to risk failing at something you love so much is triumph in itself."
Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy couldn't ask for a better ambassador.
Photo by Jonathan Selkowitz, courtesy of Darigold