WHISTLER OLYMPIC PARK (Feb. 19) – Norway's Marit Bjoergen came from behind to earn her second gold medal of the 2010 Olympics on a sunny day in Whistler, adding her victory in the 15K pursuit to an earlier sprint win. The field of four U.S. women, all first-time Olympians, put down a solid effort in the half-classic, half-free technique race, but came up short in the results. Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) led the U.S. women in 38th.
"It was tough out there today. My legs felt really heavy. The path always starts out fast and maybe it was a little too fast for me, I'm not sure," said Holly Brooks (Anchorage).
Brooks was a disappointing 56th, dropping time in the classic portion after a good start in the 7.5 kilometers of freestyle.
"My legs just flooded with lactic acid and I was trying to hang in there, but today was pretty brutal," she said.
Still, failing to do your best in the Olympics is far from total failure, said Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT).
"There's people who don't even get to be here, so you can't quit." she said. "It was tough today, but not every day is going to go the way you visualized it. And if you're not having (a good day) out there, you have to realize what you can do to fight for not being last on a certain day."
Arritola wasn't pleased with her U.S.-best placement, either, getting off to a rough start and churning away at her energy reserves trying to recover.
"I skied as hard as I could, but it just wasn't a day for me," she said. "The freestyle leg went OK, I skied up a few places, but I know I can classic ski with some of the girls who are farther up the line, and I'd like to get that chance, so I've just got to keep racing."
On the other hand, Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis) was happy to have had a good skate session after difficulties in the classic.
"Traditionally I'm a better skate skier," she said. "I think I was a little slick until I figured out which of the tracks was better. But I put on the skate skis and I felt incredibly strong."
The day was rounded out by near-perfect weather. Sunshine and large crowds were both beaming as the action got underway.
"I can't remember too many days with sunshine like this back home," said Holly Brooks (Anchorage).
2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Whistler Olympic Park – Feb. 19
Ladies 15K Pursuit
Gold – Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 39:58.1
Silver – Anna Haag, Sweden, +8.9
Bronze – Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, +9.3
4. Kristin Stoermer Steira, Norway, +9.4
5. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, +42.5
38. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, +3:27.8
43. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis, +4:25.2
56. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, +5:40.7
58. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, +5:55.7