KUUSAMO, Finland (Nov. 30) – Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) skied to a career-best seventh place in the women’s 5k classic Saturday, the second stage of the Ruka Triple mini-tour. World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) posted the next-best result for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team in 15th while Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk took the victory. Seventh in the mini-tour standings, Randall is the leading U.S. athlete going into Sunday’s freestyle pursuit, starting the race 52-seconds behind the leader. Both the men and women gear up for the 15k and 10k freestyle pursuit Sunday, the final stage of the Ruka Triple mini-tour in Kuusamo.
Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) skied to a career-best seventh place in the women’s 5k classic Saturday, the second stage of the Ruka Triple mini-tour. Here's Bjornsen at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. (Sarah Brunson/USSA)
I went into today really excited. The 5k classic is my favorite race, so I felt like it was a real treat they had one on the World Cup for my first weekend. I was also looking forward to this especially challenging course. With all the steep climbs, I knew that I was going to have to remember to stay light and quick and be okay with the constant burn. Two years ago when I raced here, I really struggled on those climbs, so I was just excited to take on a weakness and see if I had improved.
My skis were great, the course was in good condition, and my body and mind were ready to go fast, so it turned into a fun day. Thanks to the wax team for great boards to go hard on!
Tomorrow will be another fun challenge for me. It looks like Kikkan and I will be starting three seconds apart, so I will have to try to keep my eyes on the ‘Fire Bolt’ as long as possible.
Another solid day for me, although I was hoping for a little better. My energy was good and the skis were kicking really well. I think I started off a little too conservative and gave up time in the first half of the race. The second half was better. We don't race 5k's too often, so it was fun to make one hard lap. Super cool to see Sadie have another fantastic performance. I think we're all pretty excited for the relay in Lillehammer next week!
Today's race sets me up well for tomorrow. I am looking forward to have a skating race on the final day. I love these mini-tour formats and I like head-to-head racing, so tomorrow will be fun to go chase after some girls!
Chris Grover, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Head Coach
It was another incredible classic race for Sadie. It has been three in a row for her. She paced the 5k perfectly with sector times of 10th, 9th and 8th before finishing 7th. It was a great race for Kikkan as well, although I know she wishes she had started the race a bit more aggressively. Saturday was also a great race for Noah Hoffman, who paced his race very well and moved up through the ranks from start to finish.
It will be really fun to see all of the U.S. ladies attack the 10k skate pursuit tomorrow, since this has traditionally been one of our strongest events. I want to say a huge thanks to our service team that has provided world-class classic skis the past two days.