BSM snowboarders find international success despite COVID

Courtesy of Rose Bransford
Senior Rose Bransford tears up the slopes in an effort to continue her climb up the snowboarding charts.

While many students worry about their ability to see friends and be with family during these COVID times, two Benilde-St. Margeret’s athletes have already made the decision to put aside those important factors of their lives in favor of their true passion: competitive snowboarding.

Seniors Iris Pflum and Rose Bransford are among the elite of the elite when it comes to women snowboarders.  Although they have already had to adapt to new restrictions, they will also have to continue to learn how to navigate their complicated lifestyles of world-class training during a global pandemic. 

Bransford trained on Copper Mountain in Colorado for the first three weeks of November, but her typical training site is Buck Hill in Burnsville, Minnesota seven days a week during the winter. This hard work has paid off.  “I am currently seeded third in the Nation,” Bransford said. 

Her top status as a women’s snowboarder earned her a spot at the 2020 Junior World Championship in Austria, but this was unfortunately canceled due to Covid-19. Bransford will continue to work tirelessly in hopes of a spot on the U.S Olympic team, “Last season I improved far beyond what I thought I would and if I put enough time and effort into this season hopefully the Olympics will no longer be a dream and possibly a reality, but that is far in the future and I am taking it one season at a time,” Bransford said. 

Right now I am on the United States Snowboard Racing Team and am striving to get on the US team in the next two years.”

— Iris Pflum

Pflum is training on Copper Mountain as well. “I was named first in the USA for women alpine snowboard racing this past year [and] third overall in North America,” Pflum said. 

Her top-notch ranking will give her a spot in the US World Cup this coming year, where she will be competing on behalf of Team USA. Pflum’s training won’t end in Colorado. “I then will leave for Europe right after Thanksgiving and spend until Christmas there. I come home for a week and a half and will leave again for Europe,” Pflum said. 

While in Europe, Pflum will be busy. “I will live in one spot for around 4-5 days; I will train in the mornings, do school, heavy workout, and train again. I will then leave that spot, likely to another country, and start again training, school, and workouts. I train and workout seven days a week and try to find whatever time I can to rest, stretch, catch up with family and friends, and try to psychologically prepare for the next race,” Pflum said. 

With Pflum spending the majority of the year on the other side of the world, communication with her friends and family will be rather difficult. “This situation has basically felt like I am in college a year earlier,” Pflum said. 

She hopes to make the jump from the US racing team to the US Olympic team in the coming year and a half before the next winter Olympics. “Right now I am on the United States Snowboard Racing Team and am striving to get on the US team in the next two years,” Pflum said.

The start of Covid-19 in January this year, brought many implications that shocked both the nation and the world as a whole. Plum and Bransford have spent the past year attempting to train and compete in a world governed by Covid. Many key competitions have been forced to shut down, “Nationals and Junior Worlds 2020 were both canceled last season which was extremely frustrating because that is what the entire season had led up to,” Bransford said. 

There are also many health implications that BSM’s star athletes are tasked to deal with. “This year I will take a test whenever I travel [before and after the flight] as well as weekly to make sure I haven’t gotten it in whatever country I am in. Guidelines are set that if we get corona we are out 100% for 10 days even if it is a false positive. If we come into contact we are also out 14 days no matter what,” Pflum said. 

With borders all around the globe closing and shutting down international travel the only way this much travel is possible is with an athlete visa. Both Bransford and Pflum know the risk of travel and competition during these strange times and are both prepared to face them head-on.