SNC Freeskier Bridget O’Brien Ready for Season


Bridget O’Brien

Graduating from Sierra Nevada College in spring of 2019, senior Bridget O’Brien is nearing the completion of her undergraduate education in biology in just three years.

Before coming to SNC, O’Brien was able to complete 24 credits for college during high school through Colorado Mountain College, knocking out almost all of her general requirements. Her early graduation will help her financially in pursuing graduate school for physical therapy.

Born and raised only a 10-minute drive from Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, O’Brien’s interest in physical therapy grew from her experiences in the mountains. Since the age of 2, she has been on skis and was a part of Team Breckenridge on its freeride program for several years.

In 2015, only two weeks into the season, O’Brien tore her ACL working on a switch 540 off a jump. The injury prevented her from traveling and competing for the rest of the season and mentally, the recovery wasn’t easy.

“My first day back skiing was actually during my first year here at SNC and that season I almost hated it because I was still in fear of getting hurt again and missing out on a whole other ski season,” O’Brien said.

However, the experience helped solidify O’Brien’s ideas for her career path.

“I want to help people get through situations like I was previously helped through,” O’Brien said. “I also think it’s a super interesting field because each patient is different, so you are never doing the same thing.”

This season, O’Brien has goals to redeem herself on the switch 540. As this is her third and final year as a member on the freeski team at SNC, O’Brien is also looking forward to placing well at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Last season, she took third place in both the slopestyle and rail jam events.

“I have a lot of other goals for myself skiing, but I try not to think about it too much because I’ll put too much pressure on myself,” O’Brien said. “Not thinking about it helps things happen more naturally.”

Photo credit: Dylan Jerz
Bridget O’Brien slides a rail at Northstar resort in California. In 2015, O’Brien tore her ACL, but she’s back on the slopes full force.

O’Brien also juggles a very busy schedule this semester, taking a total of 19 credits.

“Basically, my time is spent either at school, doing homework, or at ski practice,” she said. “I don’t really have a whole lot of other free time.”

Although, in the small free time O’Brien does have, she stays on top of browsing graduate schools. Originally, her attraction to Tahoe was the new area to explore outside of home and the small class sizes at SNC, but now, she might venture back to Colorado for CU Denver, or explore graduate opportunities at the University of Utah.

Before jumping into graduate school,  O’Brien says she plans on taking a gap year where she can take a break from school and focus on working, traveling, and skiing.

“My friends, family, and all the opportunities Tahoe has to offer really helped me through a lot of things these past few years,” O’Brien said. “The lake is only a few minutes away, and even for something as simple as that, I feel so lucky.”