Bjornsen Wins 50k National Title
Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) of Alaska Pacific University Nordic regained his 2016 long distance national title, winning the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships 50k classic crown Wednesday at Craftsbury Common, Vt. Bjornsen won a sprint to the finish with Craftsbury Green’s Adam Martin (Craftsbury Common, Vt.) to win by 1.5 seconds. Defending champion Scott Patterson (Anchorage) of APU took bronze, 23 seconds behind Bjornsen.
A huge pack of up to a dozen skiers hung together for much of the first half of the race with Stratton Mountain’s Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) and Paddy Caldwell (East Lyme, N.H.) among the early leaders. In the second half, the group began to splinter with Bjornsen, Martin, and Patterson establishing themselves as the ones to beat.
It was the third national title for Bjornsen.
“It was a good group for about halfway through the race until the ski change,” said Bjornsen. “That made things a bit more tactical. Scott was pushing the whole time and then we hooked up with Adam.”
Coming into the finish, Bjornsen took the inside track to gain the advantage over Martin.
“I was a little concerned about the start but I was able to get out with the leaders and stay with them,” said Martin. “I was just so stoked to be skiing with Scott and Erik - it was a huge honor. I had a little energy at the end and was able to battle with Erik, but he got me at the end.”
Patterson capped a strong season, including the best ever U.S. men’s long-distance finish at the Olympics, with another medal.
“It was good skiing, really consistent for the entire race,” he said. “I felt pretty decent. It’s the end of the season and I’m tired definitely, not racing quite at the form I was at the Olympics. We had a good crew out there with Adam and Erik and I and pushed pretty hard until the last k when my wheels came off.”
The race wrapped up what was a storybook season for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team with strong results on the World Cup tour and a host of best-ever Olympic results including gold from Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall in the team sprint.
Men's 50k classic mass start