LILLEHAMMER, Norway (Dec. 6, 2015) – The U.S. Ski Team women scored an historic podium Sunday, as Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) skied the fastest anchor leg to give the USA third in the 4x5k relay. Norway won with a significant lead over Finland by nearly two minutes. It was only the third time in history the USA has been on a relay podium.
Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) started out strong in the first leg but dropped to seventh by the end of the 5k. She handed off to Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) who skied the fifth fastest leg, but the USA remained in seventh at the halfway point through the two classic technique legs. Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) started out the skate portion with an exceptional leg, finishing third and moving the USA up to fifth. On the anchor leg, Diggins took over and hammered through the field to win her leg by 3.5 seconds and move the USA up into third, 1.4 seconds ahead of Norway 2 and just eight seconds out of second place.
Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan, Jessie Diggins and Liz Stephen celebrate in the finish after taking third in Lillehammer. (Getty Images/AFP-Cornelius Poppe)
In the men’s 4x7.5k relay, Norway’s three teams swept the podium with Team I finishing first, Team III second and Team II third. The U.S. men’s team put in a solid race and placed 12th overall.
Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) had an exceptional second leg after Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) where he brought the team from 15th to fifth and exchanged to Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) for the third leg who was able to remain in fifth. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) anchored the team but faded in the final kilometers.
World Cup competition will continue next weekend Dec. 12-13 in Davos, Switzerland.
Today was just an unbelievable day. The conditions were very challenging for me and I was doing my best to stay as close to the leaders as possible, but lost more time than I had hoped. I went from feeling a little disappointed to nervous to overjoyed quite quickly as the race progressed. I think that speaks to the girls on this team. They never give up and we all believe anything is possible.
I love relays. I live for that anchor leg pressure and excitement, and I wanted so badly to help our team get a relay podium this season. I think individual podiums are great and all that, but getting to share a medal with a team is such a bigger deal for me because we work so hard all year round together and travel all winter as a family. It was a great day for team USA!