Bjornsen, Diggins Fifth in World Championship Team Sprint
Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) skied to a hard-fought fifth-place finish in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championship classic team sprint in Seefeld, Austria, Sunday.
“My goal was to be in a good position on the first lap and then push the pace on the next two laps to try to give some room for Jessie, but off the start I was in the back row and it was super hard to get to the front,” said Bjornsen, who was the lead-off skier for six-lap race on the 1.2km course. “At the start of my final lap I was a little separated and tried to use the downhill to get back with the group, but it was so high speed it was really hard to make any distance out there.”
“It wasn’t a course that suits our strengths, it wasn’t very long or overly challenging and we did the very best we could,” said Diggins. “It was hard because we both found ourselves stuck without a window to move so we weren’t able to use our best assets. You won’t find a team who wanted it or worked harder for it more than we did. It didn’t work out for us this time but it has in the past and it can again in the future. We are moving forward with a lot of positivity and preparing for the rest of the races.”
The race was won by Sweden, followed by the surprise Slovenia team in second, with Norway completing the podium in third.
“There were a couple of challenges out there, one was the curvature of the climbs so if you were on the inside line it was really hard to have enough speed to go outside and pass,” said U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Chris Grover. “The other was there were no big climbs and that makes it challenging for Jessie and Sadie, who have big engines, to find the space let it run.”
The U.S. men’s team of Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) and Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) finished eight in the strong World Championship field. Hamilton was the lead skier tagging off to Bjornsen on the six-lap, 1.6k course.
“It was tough out there, but we had great skis,” said Hamilton. “The pace was pushed out of the start and I was just thinking I didn’t want to burn up the match, I know I had a few more legs to ski.”
“I felt a bit better in the semis and in the finals, I let a little gap open up on the second lap thinking some of these guys are going to blow up, but they didn’t, so that was unfortunate,” said Bjornsen. “I didn’t have a very good corner on the second lap and went from a gap of a few meters to a gap of about 10 meters.”
“The big climb was so big and the course was so hard when you add six of those together it is very taxing,” said Grover. “The guys were getting a little tired and we got gapped while the front group was turning up the heat and there is just not that many people that can stay with them at a World Championship level.
“I am really proud of the efforts of everyone,” Grover added. “The service team pushed really hard and made great skis with a great plan. The athletes pushed as hard as they absolutely could all day. Both teams easily qualified for the finals and put themselves in the right place, it just wasn’t our day in the end.”
The men’s race was won by Norway with Russia second, and Italy in third.
The World Championships continue Tuesday with the women’s 10k classic.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Tuesday, Feb. 26
9:00 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships women’s 10k - Seefeld, AUT - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships women’s 10k - Seefeld, AUT - NBCSN*
Thursday, Feb. 28
1:00 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships men’s 15k - Seefeld, AUT - NBCSN**
7:00 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships women’s 4x5k relay - Seefeld, AUT - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
Friday, March 1
7:15 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships men’s 4x10k relay - Seefeld, AUT - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships men’s 4x10k relay - Seefeld, AUT - Olympic Channel-TV*
Saturday, March 2
6:15 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships women’s 30k - Seefeld, AUT - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - FIS World Cross Country Skiing Championships women’s 30k - Seefeld, AUT - Olympic Channel-TV*
All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold andOlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.