Photo: Resnicks and Bococks
In the spring of 2019 sisters Allie and Emma Resnick had one of their biggest fights. Emma had just qualified for the U.S. Ski Team but an injury sidelined her older sister Allie. For the first time in their lives Allie was not the first of the two to accomplish something before her younger sister. Emma knew it too. She wanted to celebrate her success yet felt guilty knowing Allie should have been nominated first. The Resnick sisters learned two important lessons that evening. Lessons that have stuck with them over the past three years on the U.S. Team together:
- It’s hard to have your sister achieve your dream goal that you also share, but the reality is that sometimes one sister is going to do something that the other hasn’t.
- It’s okay to not be okay for a few minutes, but at the bottom of your heart you’re genuinely happy and supportive of your sister, and for all your teammates
At the age of three Allie and Emma started as weekend warriors from Denver. Then eventually the family moved to Vail when Allie was in fifth grade and Emma in third. They called it their “adventure year,” which ended up lasting over 10 years until both made the U.S. Ski Team.
Being two years apart, the Resnick sisters never raced against each other until FIS. As it happened, it was Allie’s return to racing after tearing her ACL that she tied her younger sister Emma in the first run to the hundredth of a second. In context, Emma won’t let you forget that her older sister whipped her in the second run to win.
Emma was a rookie on the U.S. Team as Allie fought to return from injury, racing side by side for the first time in their careers while setting competition or any grudges aside to support each other more than ever before. Just a few months later, Emma helped guide older sister Allie who was named to the team.
427 miles to the west, a second set of sisters now join the U.S. Alpine Team with 16-year-old Elisabeth Bocock nominated alongside older sister Mary as the newest recruit for the 2022-23 season. While Mary suffered a knee injury early in her rookie U.S. team season last year, the Snowbird native Bocock sisters will race each other for the first time, both as U.S. Ski Team members.
Sisters, Teammates, and Individuals
When you get four teammates that are two sets of sisters on a group phone call, you hear stories of rooming together, sharing clothes, and just needing to release those real, unfiltered emotions in front of family. You hear about best friends that nag on each other to hit cliffs while freeskiing, a shoulder to cry on when life gets tough, and a person who understands every part of your life. But more than anything, you get a piece of home that travels with you that constantly supports you in the pursuit to be better.
“We just understand things because we’ve grown up together,” shared Emma about her relationship with Allie. “When we’re home, we can train together. When away from the team, we can do dryland together. We push each other, but we are also just there for each other.”
But there are times when it can feel like too much time together, not to mention the pressure of competition that is unnecessarily put on the sisters. Even when it shouldn’t be a competition, there are always remarks about which sister will win. Inherently in the sport of ski racing, they already put enough competition on themselves.
Shared Experiences is Sometimes is Too Much
“There are times when it can feel like way too much time together,” said Mary. “You’re at home together, on the road together, in the same friend group. It can be challenging, but in the long run I think it’s really beneficial for us.”
“And it’s tough being with someone you are so similar to because you’re compared to each other in every way,” added Elisabeth. “Competition is not always bad, but always being compared to someone else can be tough.”
People always associate the sisters with each other. Creating their own identity and being independent while still sharing that sisterly bond can be a struggle. From the older sister perspective, it’s easy to urge their younger counterpart to create their own path. As a younger sister, it’s good to recognize the small things that add up to a whole identity. The differences are good, but sometimes the sisters are just naturally similar.
“I’ve taken after Allie in all aspects of my life: in school, skiing, general interests. It’s hard not to follow suit but it’s frustrating because people almost see it as predictable. I’m sorry I’m doing the same thing, but I’m doing it because I really want to,” said Emma.
Emma was like any other younger sister – wearing Allie’s hand-me-down clothes and sharing a lot of the same interests. Allie did the same, following the footsteps of her older brother. But as the two sisters have gotten older, they have seen outsiders – those who don’t see them as individuals – point out the similarities more than see them as individuals. Emma almost turned away from attending Dartmouth with Allie, feeling expected to follow her older sister, before acknowledging it was what she really wanted to do for herself.
“The fact that there are two sets of siblings on the alpine team is so rare,” said Allie. “But we all ski with our own style, we all do things our own way. We are all in the same sport, but we are all very different.”
The four young women each play a role: younger sister, older sister, and teammate. Just as Allie can pave a way for Emma, Emma can do the same for Elisabeth as a fellow younger sister. Eventually, that spirit of support just spreads throughout the entire national team.
“There is always someone older than you, someone younger than you, someone faster and someone slower. It’s all about compromise in a way and learning to deal with each other’s failures and successes,” said Allie.
Teammates on the Hill, Sisters at Home
Knee injuries sidelined both Emma and Mary during the 2021-22 season.. At the same time Allie had a career-best year, with numerous NorAm podiums across multiple disciplines that granted her a World Cup start and B-Team nomination for the 22-23 season. Meanwhile Elisabeth qualified for the U.S. Ski Team in her first FIS season after winning a National Junior Race and top 15 finishes in NorAm races.
Emma and Mary turned to each other, watching and talking about their fellow sisters’ success in skiing. When it was easy to turn a blind eye when injured, Emma reminded herself that prior to her injury she was competing alongside her sister. Allie’s success only motivated Emma’s comeback. For Elisabeth and Allie, it was even more special to see the hard work and dedication behind their sisters’ return to snow.
“It was obviously tough for Mary, but it was tough for me,” said Elisabeth. “I’ve never seen her out of sport, and I just couldn’t relate. Just seeing her overcome that was so exciting. I saw all the downsides, but I got to see her come back stronger from it.”
Back on snow and training together, the sisters prioritize being the best teammates. Mary knows any day Elisabeth can ski her best and beat her, just as Mary can help Elisabeth focus on the task at hand. Mary is often there for Elisabeth to help her decompress from the stress of learning new skills. There is always a bit of competitive nature in training, but as it is with all their other teammates, not ever mean-spirited..
Meanwhile, the Resnick sisters prioritize honesty and open communication to help their individual skiing and can tell when one or the other is missing a mark from a coach. They know any day they will have good advice they can understand and questions that go back decades when days get challenging.
“I just have so much respect for Allie as an athlete because I see the hard work she puts in more than anyone else,” said Emma. “I can almost understand what’s going through her brain when she is skiing on course and when she does a certain technique better than me, I can learn from her and ask for help.”
The Sibling Significance
In a discipline where thousands of athletes across the country compete for a mere 42 spots on the U.S. Alpine Team in the 2022-23 nomination cycle, having just one other sibling is rare. The U.S. Ski Team has shared sets of siblings over the years: two of U.S. alpine athlete Lauren Macuga’s three siblings are also on the U.S. Team, her sister Alli skis moguls and her brother is a ski jumper. In 2011, Sadie and Erik Bjornsen accepted nominations to the U.S. Nordic Team. In 2018, younger brother Trey Seymour got the call he would be joining the U.S. Alpine Team with older brother Jett. In the same year, younger brother Jesse Andringa joined Olympian brother Casey on the U.S. Moguls Team.
For the 22-23 season, out of 22 women nominated to the U.S. Alpine Team there are two sets of sisters.
The Bocock’s and Resnick’s agree that having sisters together creates a family-like culture across the entire team.
“I see how Elisabeth and Mary interact and how they can push each other but be real with each other,” said Emma. “That helps all of us have the same attitude.”
“I feel so lucky to have my sister on the team with me, but I also see all these characteristics I talk about in Emma in my teammates that aren’t blood related,” added Allie. “I just feel like we are a family.”
Sure, there is a huge significance in having two sets of sisters on the U.S. Ski Team. But for Allie, Emma, Mary, and Elisabeth it’s not just about being a sister. It’s how the sisters can help amplify the family-like relationship and attitudes amongst their teammates.