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Meet the U.S. Army’s break dancing helicopter mechanic who’s training for the Olympics

Army Staff Sgt. Brianna Pritchard is a National Guard helicopter mechanic. But when she’s not repairing Black Hawks, the soldier trains for the USA’s break dancing team

Staff Sgt. Brianna Pritchard, an Army National Guard helicopter mechanic from Alaska, shows her Olympic breaking moves.
Staff Sgt. Brianna Pritchard, an Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mechanic from Anchorage, Alaska, shows her Olympic breaking moves at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. 
Sgt. Daniel Soto, United States Army

Professionally, Army Staff Sgt. Brianna Pritchard is a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mechanic for the Alaska National Guard, but what she really wants to do is represent the United States as an Olympic athlete.

And that dream is starting look like it could become a reality, as Pritchard’s sport of choice was recently picked up by International Olympic Committee for future Olympic games: break dancing, or competitively known as breaking.

  • “I have always eyed the Olympics because I thought it was such a high honor. I already loved being an athlete,” the staff sergeant told the U.S. Army in a recent interview. “What better way to represent the USA than to be a professional athlete, so I always wanted to be in the Olympics.”
  • According to the Army interview, Pritchard has been involved in breaking for 14 years.
  • “I grew up surrounded by B-boys (male breakers) and men, and that’s fine — that has actually really developed my style of breaking,” Pritchard — whose official breaking name is Snap 1 — told the Anchorage Daily News. “I don’t dance like most B-girls because I was around a masculine type of style. I had worked really hard to be as strong as them, as explosive as them, have as much endurance as them and had to come up with moves and things to compete on their level.”

In December, the International Olympic Committee announced that breaking — along with skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing — would be officially added to the 2024 Paris Olympic games.

But Prichard’s training schedule of 3 a.m. workouts in her Anchorage home studio have been upended by her military service. The helicopter mechanic and flight instructor is currently deployed to Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, according to the Army.

  • “It’s just bad timing that the deployment came up, however, going on a deployment has been another goal of mine since I joined the Army. I didn’t want to end my military service without going on a deployment,” Pritchard said in the interview.
  • “This is my first deployment and I am very passionate about my job. This is just as important for me to go on this deployment. I know I could have said no and just focused on the Olympics, but this is just as important to me, too,” the soldier added.

In October 2020, before she was deployed, Snap 1 placed in the top 16 out of more than 800 international competitors in the annual Red Bull BC One breaking competition, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

  • “She is the only woman from the United States to advance. Snap 1 said she made the top 16 in 2018 and the top 8 the following year,” the Anchorage Daily News reported at the time.
  • “My No. 1 goal in my life is to be an Olympian. I am hoping to secure a spot on the national team,” Pritchard said in the Army interview. “No matter what, I will not stop training.”

The Olympic hopeful is scheduled to redeploy back to the United States in early 2022, according to the Army.