Winter Games Athletes
After making her Olympic debut in Vancouver four years ago, Rookard returns as part of the U.S. group in Sochi less than a year after she walked away from the sport. Still grieving from the death of her mother to cancer several weeks before the 2010 Games, Rookard finished 12th in the 3,000 meters in Vancouver with a time of 4:13.05. She fared even better in the 5,000 when she placed eighth in 7:07.48, and also was part of the team pursuit squad that finished fourth. Rookard hopes to take the next step in Russia after winning the 3,000 at the U.S. OIympic trials in December with a time of 4:09.99 - more than 4 seconds faster than her closest pursuer. That performance was more than just a competitive victory for Rookard, who took four months off after a couple of poor seasons to see if she still desired to race competitively. She felt she never had the chance to properly grieve her mother's passing and could only achieve that by not racing. When she decided it was time to return, Rookard moved to Norway prior to this season to train with former U.S. gold medalist Peter Mueller. She enjoyed a solid 2013 season during which she set personal bests in the 1,000 (1.17.33), 1,500 (1.55.31) and the 5,000 (6.58.40). Though Rookard did not begin her speedskating career until 2006, a year later she had already qualified for her first World Cup team, and did so again in 2009.