FALUN, Sweden (Feb. 26, 2015) - The U.S. women finished fourth in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 4x5k relay. An early fall from Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) in the opening leg put the team in a tough position early. They slipped to 8th place before Bjornsen and her teammates Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT), Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) pulled the team back to a solid fourth place result.
>Liz Stephen raced the third leg in the 4x5k relay event. The U.S. women finished fourth. (Getty Images-Mike Hewitt)
Norway won the event handily, while Sweden’s Stina Nilsson outsprinted Finland’s Krista Parmakoski for the silver medal.
The fourth place finish matches the best-ever relay result for U.S. women—the 4x5k relay in Val Di Fiemme, Italy with Bjornsen, Stephen, Diggins and Kikkan Randall competing. "It was really an honor to be part of the relay team," said Brennan after the race. "It is amazing to do well in a relay because it means you have four girls that are skiing really well, which has not always been the case for the U.S."
Course preparations ensured a more consistent track than seen this week at the championships with track setters salting the entire 2.5k loop used for racing in today’s relay. The resulting conditions were hard, fast and fair in what has been a week tough on service teams and athletes alike.
A fun day to be party of a relay as always. The relay is so special, because it takes four PERFECT legs, and that takes some luck, chances, and skills! I was on my way to chase my perfect relay leg, but unfortunately got my ski caught around 2.5k, and I struggled to catch back up. As I jumped up, I hammered as hard as possible, and made an initial flood of lactating making the pace hard to hold on to and I lost sight of the leaders.
It was great to see the following three legs fight their way back up and finish in 4th, a huge success. We are chasing that podium every time we put our relay leg warmers on, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. One thing is for sure, we have the fitness to get there! And we will!
I was extremely nervous being a first time member of this relay team. Sadie tagged me not far behind Poland so I went out to try to catch Kowalczyk for a ride. It turned out that that was a little on the ambitious side so I just tried to keep her in my sights while working to pass Russia. It's hard to know what is going on in the rest of the race when you are racing alone, but I felt I skied well and was happy with the way things went./p>
I was confident that our skating machines of Liz and Jessie could catch Poland. It was really an honor to be part of the relay team and it is amazing to do well in a relay because it means you have four girls that are skiing really well, which has not always been the case for the U.S.
I never imagined I would be in a position to be racing the relay at World Championships so I am very excited about today and really happy to be racing alongside my three teammates.