RUKA, Finland (Nov. 28, 2015) - Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team with solid 14th and 16th place finishes, after the second-stage of the Ruka Triple in a 5k freestyle race on Saturday. The finish boosted Bjornsen into 11th in the standings after two stages of the mini-tour.
In the woman’s competition, Norway’s Therese Johaug dominated the race with a 17.6 second lead over Charlotte Kalla of Sweden after getting tripped up climbing the last hill into the stadium, followed by Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter in third. Johaug leads the tour.
Spectators pack the trails in Finland for the race. (Getty Images-Martti Kainulainen)
Norway’s Martin Sundby won the men’s 10k finishing over Canada’s Alex Harvey and Dario Cologna of Switzerland to take the tour lead with one stage to go. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was top American in 49th.
The final stage of the Ruka Triple wraps up Sunday with a 15k/10k classic pursuit race. It will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra with women at 4:15 a.m. EST and men at 5:30 a.m. EST.
It was a warm and foggy morning and the course held up really well. I was happy with my race but wanted more - I didn’t ski it badly, but I also know where I could have picked off a few seconds here and there. But for the first skate world cup of the season, it’s a good place to start!
The wax techs worked really hard and I think we had really competitive skis, and I’m excited for what looks like a good fight tomorrow in the 10k classic pursuit.
It was a super fun second day in Kuusamo. I have been looking forward to this race, because I really love the 5k distance. I have also done a lot of work in training with skate skiing this year, so I was looking forward to seeing what could happen. I was really stoked to finish where I did! That is a PR in skate skiing for sure! I am looking forward to some more skating opportunities this season, because the race was so closely packed, and I know for sure there are things I can improve in the future. I had awesome skis for the second day in a row, so I have the waxing crew to thank for that!
Tomorrow should be fun to start in a good position for some really tough classic skiing! There is a lot of climbing in this 10k, so it will be fun to see who is willing to burn their legs the most!
Jason Cork, Head Men's Coach
We’ve had better days in Ruka, but there certainly were some bright spots for the men’s team. Kris Freeman was skiing a great race, including a several kilometers with Dario Cologna [eventual thirdmplace finisher], before a crash with two kilometers to go took him out. We’re also quite happy with Simi Hamilton’s race. Although 49th place might not sound too impressive, he was only 34 seconds out of 30th place. For a racer who focuses on sprinting, that’s a very strong result in a World Cup distance race.
Matt Whitcomb, Head Women's Coach
Jessie and Sadie skied great races again today. Jessie went out there looking to win the race, and while that exact outcome didn’t happen, the only way to ever win is to plan for it. We prefer to decide for ourselves what the results are going to be, rather than waiting to see what happens. There is no risk. This team isn’t really into entering races with no expectations. That’s for people who don’t like pressure, and this is the World Cup. There is pressure. These girls went for it today and all seven were awesome to watch. Some of them broke through and some of them didn’t quite find the goods. It will come. This is a hard job - not because of the pain of exertion, but because of the need for patience. For some the shape is here, and for others it is near.
Things are shaping up to be exciting tomorrow. Sadie is sitting in 11th and will be attacking her way into the top-10. The question is really how far can she ski into the top 10, and based on how she has been looking, it won’t surprise me if she has a very good day. Jessie has also positioned herself very well with two good days of racing, sitting currently in 19th and only 13 seconds out of 10th. Rosie is sitting on the edge of the top 30 and is tired of it already, so she’ll be moving in, and Ida, Sophie, Liz and Caitlin are all within 35 seconds of the points. The plan is to get four or five into the top-30.