Southwest alum Frankowski enjoys Olympics experience

Fulton native took 21st in her first Olympic race

Southwest High School graduate and U.S. Olympic team member Rosie Frankowski takes a training run on the first day of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photo courtesy Reese Brown/U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Rosie Frankowski was shocked to learn she had made the U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing team in January.

She was nearly as surprised to learn she would have an opportunity to race in the games.

Frankowski, a Fulton neighborhood native, took 21st out of 47 skiers in the 30-kilometer mass start classic race on the last day of the games, which ran Feb. 9–25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Southwest High School graduate said it was a thrill to compete, noting the excitement of coming into the stadium to cheering fans as she finished her race.

“I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life,” Frankowski said in a March 1 interview from Italy, where she was preparing to compete.

Frankowski, who lives and trains in Anchorage, Alaska, was one of 10 women on the U.S. team at the Pyeongchang Games. She said before the games that there was a good chance she wouldn’t get to compete at all, given her ranking among the U.S. team members.

She said a U.S. team coach told her several days before the Feb. 25 race that she would have the opportunity to compete.

Frankowski said she went into the race with no expectations but that it went really well. She kept near the pack of leaders for the first few kilometers of the race before setting her own pace.

“The results didn’t matter,” Frankowski said. “What mattered was that I was participating.”

Norwegian Marit Bjoergen, 37, a five-time Olympian, won the race for her seventh gold medal. Finish skier Krista Parmakoski took second and Swedish skier Stina Nilsson took third, while Afton native Jessie Diggins took seventh, after taking a fall early in the race.

Diggings, who went to Stillwater High School, won a gold medal in the women’s team sprint freestyle race along with American Kikkan Randall. Their victory marked the first cross-country skiing medal for the U.S. since 1976 and the first time the U.S. women had medaled in a cross-country event.

Frankowski said that race was among the highlights of the games for her, noting the emotions she felt and how much work went into that achievement. She said there was a lot of pressure on the U.S. team coming into the games, given its improving standing in the cross-country world, but that the medal helped relieve it.

“For our sport and for our team, that was such a historic moment,” Frankowski said.

Frankowski said the Olympics was initially overwhelming, given the jet lag, the largeness of the event and the differences between American and Korean culture. She said her routine began feeling normal after about a week at the games, adding that it was cool to be with other elite athletes.

Another highlight of the games, she said, was the opening and closing ceremonies, during which she and the other athletes walked into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. She said that Pyeongchang is more of a rural city, with attractions and venues built up for the Olympics.

Frankowski said she doesn’t know what her long-term future holds in cross-country skiing, noting how expensive it is to ski at the elite level. She said she would love to make the U.S. World Championship team next year and hopes to keep improving.

She added that dozens of people from around the country reached out to her after she made the Olympic team, adding that she appreciated the messages and the people who watched her race.

“That was probably one of the most astounding things,” she said of the well-wishes. “It makes you feel really honored.”