Bjornsen's Lead U.S. In Lillehammer Triple
Erik Bjornson (Winthrop, Wash.) had an outstanding race on the final day of the Lillehammer Triple, finishing third for the day in the 15k classic pursuit. Bjornsen finished the weekend in 32nd place for the mini-tour leading the U.S. men. Norway swept the men's mini-tour podium with Didrik Toenseth taking the win followed by Sjur Roethe in second and Emil Iversen in third.
“I'm really excited about the time of day result and hope that I can continue to build through the season,” said Erik Bjornsen. “The goal is to consistently be skiing in the points. The margins are so small that I know if I can ski top 30 every day, then the top 10 finishes start appearing. I love the pursuit start classic races because there are always a bunch of skate specialists to pick off throughout the race. Nothing feels better than passing a guy with a super low number.”
Erik Bjornsen was clearly dissatisfied with his performance in Saturday’s skate race and came out charging Sunday. He and Jean-Marc Gaillard from France were able to work together to move up the standings significantly, and Jean-Marc went on to have the second fastest time of the day, one second ahead of Erik Bjornsen.
On the women’s side, Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) finished 10th overall in the three-day Lillehammer Triple on a very challenging wax day with a wintry mix of precipitation in the final stage 10k pursuit. Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) closely followed in 13th with Rosie Brennan (Park City, Utah) finishing the weekend 15th overall.
“Today was particularly tough because I was kind of in "no man’s land" in the pursuit start,” Sadie Bjornsen said. “I was really struggling with not enough kick on my skis, so I had to really use some mental toughness to make it up the endless hills of the Lillehammer course. Early season races are good races to deal with this sort of stuff, because not only do you learn from ski waxing mistakes, but you also can take advantage of making your brain fight extra hard and get in good form along with your muscles.”
Norway’s Therese Johaug took the victory – her 55th World Cup win – with Ebba Andersson of Sweden second and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg in third. It was a standout tour for Brennan who will move to the Beitostølen, Norway, World Cup Dec. 8-9 with a lot of confidence in her skating.
“The service team made some great skis although we had a couple women that were on the slick side, including Sadie,” U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover said. “Jessie skied with better energy today and was able to move up a spot and finish the race explosively. Now that she is healthier the next two weeks of racing should be steps forward for her.”
“I got to ski the race with Rosie, the birthday girl, today”, said Olympic gold medalist Diggins. “It was super awesome to be skiing with a teammate and it helped keep me in the game. I felt better than yesterday’s race, so I was happy with the progress my body is making, and now I’m looking forward to next week to make sure my body is rested and recovered…because we have relays coming up”
The FIS Cross Country World Cup season continues next weekend, Dec. 8-9 in Beitostølen, Norway, with a 15k freestyle for the women, 30k freestyle for the men Saturday, and a men and women’s team relay Sunday.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
Saturday, Dec. 8
3:20 a.m. - Women’s 15k interval, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel & NBC Sports Gold
6:05 a.m. - Men’s 30k interval, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel & NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. - Women’s 15k interval, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel*
Sunday, Dec. 9
4:20 a.m. - Women’s team relay, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel & NBC Sports Gold
7:20 a.m. - Men’s team relay, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel & NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. - Women’s team relay, Beitostølen, NOR - Olympic Channel*