Seattle native, cross country Olympian Holly Brooks on wheels at Alki

The road to the Sochi Olympics rolls through Alki Beach, where Seattle cross country skier and Seattle native Holly Brooks takes to roller skis.

Holly Brooks says she was never very good at cross country skiing. Sure, she did it a lot. It was a family affair for her, her parents and her triplet siblings, all based at their cabin on Snoqualmie pass.

I was pretty average she said with a shrug. I never really won anything.

On a beautiful spring day she showed off her XC form using roller skis along the seawall at Alki Beach and talked about the long road to Sochi.

She went to Whitman College in Walla Walla and competed at the NCAA level, but again, she never won anything. After college she went north to Alaska Pacific University and became a full-time coach.

I was teaching other people how to ski, helping other people achieve their dreams and goals, Brooks said.

But something happened. While she was coaching full-time, she was obviously working out and skiing a lot. And it paid off. When the last Winter Olympics rolled around, it turned out she was fast - in fact very fast. She was a last-minute selection to be part of the American Olympic team for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

It took everyone, including myself, by surprise, she recalled.

She competed in five events. Her best finished were 12th in a relay and 36th in the 30K endurance race. Not exactly red-hot results, but enough to convince her it was time to stop being a coach and start being a full-time athlete. And she s loving it, training constantly and working as part of a good and improving American women s team.

I kind of get goose bumps even on a hot day thinking about the medal potential, she said.

That, from a girl who never thought she d be competing at the Olympic level.


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