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’Happy, proud, and grateful’: Local skier Halvorsen returns from injury

Hannah Halvorsen, one of the Truckee-Tahoe area’s top cross-country skiers made her return to competitive racing on Saturday, competing for the first time being hit by a vehicle in November 2019.
Courtesy photo

One of the Truckee-Tahoe area’s top cross-country skiers made her return to competitive racing on Saturday, competing for the first time being hit by a vehicle in November 2019.

Last year, Hannah Halvorsen, 22, was planning on an evening out in Anchorage, Alaska to celebrate her birthday. Instead, as Halvorsen and her boyfriend made their way across a one-way street, a Jeep Cherokee swung a left and struck the Alaska Pacific University skier.

During the accident, Halvorsen smashed her left knee on the hood of the car, fracturing her tibia and tearing and detaching her MCL and PCL. More seriously, Halvorsen came off the Jeep and hit her head on the concrete. Unconscious and with blood pooling around, she was taken the hospital where she would spend the next five days recovering from bleeding and bruising in her brain, along with her other injuries.

“I was in a lot of pain,” said Halvorsen in a May interview with the Sierra Sun, adding that she doesn’t remember much of the incident. “I’ve been filled in on what happened. I haven’t had anything come back. It feels like a dream.”

The accident would rob Halvorsen of her junior year of cross-country competition, erasing what would have been a promising season of collegiate and U.S. Ski Team racing.

Slowly but surely Halvorsen began down the long road of recovery, working with trainers to rebuild her strength with an eye toward the 2020-21 season. As the months drug on she’d bounce around from different trainers and doctors, navigating the outbreak of COVID-19. Soon, major breakthroughs like getting off crutches and walking without a brace were checked off. As her body began to heal, Halvorsen’s athletic fire began to be stoked and a new sense of appreciation for the sport took hold.

“It definitely made me realize that I really do want to ski,” she said. “It almost just felt like this was my life, that is was normal. It’s actually really special. I miss it a lot.”

That yearning to return to skiing was finally quenched in October when Halvorsen returned to the snow for the first time in nearly a year.

“I don’t need to say much more than thank you to everyone, who has helped me get back,” posted Halvorsen to her Instagram page. “I am so happy.”

During the past several weeks Halvorsen continued progressing, practicing with teammates and participating in time trials in Anchorage in preparation to open the season in Davos, Switzerland.

“Just to be here and be able to put on a bib and step on the start line is a massive accomplishment,” Halvorsen told U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I have worked hard to get here, but certainly not on my own as I have been supported by the entire Nordic community. As I head into this race, I feel a lot of things, but most powerfully, I feel happy, proud, and grateful.”

On Saturday, Halvorsen completed her comeback, racing at the World Cup event in Davos, Switzerland. Halvorsen finished the sprint race in 38th out of 51 skiers.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

Squaw Valley Ski Team adds pair of Olympians to coaching staff

Marco and Anna Sullivan have joined the Squaw Valley Ski Team coaching staff.
Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

The Squaw Valley Ski Team announced the addition of former Olympians and husband-wife duo Anna and Marco Sullivan to team leadership roles.

Following long-standing competitive careers in alpine ski racing, Marco joins as Interim Head Coach for the U16 team and Anna takes over as FIS Manager and Head Coach for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.

“Anna and Marco have long been a part of the Squaw Valley Ski Team family, and now we are thrilled to have them on our staff as head coaches supporting our most dedicated athletes. Their world class athletic and coaching experience, as well as their ability to connect with our young people will allow our athletes to reach their highest potential on and off the ski hill,” said Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Ski Teams Director Bill Hudson.

A 2010 Olympian, two-time North American Cup Champion, and nine-year member of the Canadian National Team, Anna Sullivan has played an integral role within the Squaw Valley Ski Team for many years, including a consistent presence coaching spring camps and as an U14 Assistant Head Coach. She holds a degree in Economics and Conflict Resolution from Westminster College, coaches alongside her husband at American Downhiller race camps, and is the co-founder of the Ski Racing Sisterhood, which bridges elite level athleticism with personal leadership skill building.

“I am excited to have such an important role within the ski team and look forward to being able to share my ski racing expertise and honor the Squaw Valley legacy,” said Anna Sullivan. “ I hope to foster what has made the Squaw Valley Ski Team so successful in the past, and create new and fun ways to instill a lifelong passion for skiing and ski racing.”

A lifelong Tahoe resident and Squaw Valley Ski Team alumnus, Marco Sullivan was a member of the U.S. Ski Team for nearly two decades, making more than 150 World Cup starts, as well as the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympics. At the peak of his career, Marco was ranked fourth globally in downhill and helped to establish the U.S. Ski Team as one of the best in the world alongside Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves. Following his retirement in 2017, he founded the American Downhiller race camps, now hugely successful with the top junior skiers in the country.

“I feel very content that I was able to live my dream, the kids I am now coaching are in a similar place to where I was 20 years ago,” said Marco Sullivan. “I learned a lot of lessons about winning, losing and living like an athlete, and I am excited to pass some of those lessons on to the next generation of Squaw Valley ski racers.”