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U.S. Women Fifth In Beitostolen Relay

By Reese Brown
December, 9 2018
Women's Relay Team
U.S. Women's relay team for Sunday's FIS Cross Country World Cup in Norway. (Instagram - @sbjornsen)

Sporting some fresh faces, the women’s U.S. Cross Country Team skied away with a fifth-place finish in the first FIS Cross Country World Cup 4x5k classic/freestyle team relay of the season in Beitostolen, Norway, Sunday.

Always dominant in the relay event, Team Norway 1 took the victory ahead of Team Russia 2 in second, followed by Team Finland 1 in third.

With recent retirements, the U.S. women’s relay team started the season with some new members and a new dynamic with Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wa.), Rosie Brennan (Park City, Ut.) skiing the classic legs, and Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt.) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) skiing the freestyle portion. It was a unique course with a whole lot of drafting, and not too many climbs to break things up, which made it particularly challenging.  

“My strategy in leg one was to stay near the front and use the few working sections to try to make a gap,” said leadoff skier Bjornsen.  “I could feel right away on the first lap that the draft was pretty huge, so I tried to stay near the front and get ready to pounce when I found a good place.”

“I was really happy with today and so, so proud of my team today,” said Diggins. “We went out there and skied our hardest, and for me, it was a really interesting mix of hammering and playing it smart with tactical decisions. I went out sprinting trying to close some of the gap to the group ahead of us, but it’s a pretty flat course and really hard to drop people who are drafting you. One-third of the way into the anchor leg, I switched my strategy and let the other two girls in my pack lead, conserving energy and planning to make my move with about 1k to the finish.”

The men’s race was won by Team Norway 1, followed by Team Russia 1 in second and Team Norway 2 completing the podium. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) posted a strong fourth place in the first leg setting the U.S. Men’s Relay Team finished 12th for the day.  

“It was really fun to race the first leg of the relay today,” said Bjornsen after the race.  “I had a goal of handing off with the leader but the Norwegian was able to really explode the field. I was happy to hand off in forth behind two Norwegian teams and Russia 1.”

The World Cup now heads to Davos, Switzerland, for a sprint freestyle and a women’s 10k, and men’s 15k freestyle. The Davos races will be the final event of Period 1 leading into the holiday break.

Women’s 4x5k relay
Men’s 4x7.5k relay

All times EST
*Same-day delayed broadcast

Saturday, Dec. 15
7:20 a.m. - Men and women’s sprint - Davos, SUI - & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men and women’s sprint - Davos, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV

Sunday, Dec. 16
3:15 a.m. Women’s 10k interval - Davos, SUI - & NBC Sports Gold
9:00 a.m. Women’s 10k interval - Davos, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV*
5:45 a.m. - Men’s 15k interval - Davos, SUI - NBC Sports Gold / Replay available on