USA Fourth, Sixth At Ulricehamn Team Sprint
Jessie Diggins and Sadie Maubet Bjornson, along with Simi Hamilton and Kevin Bolger teamed up to represent the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team in Sunday’s FIS Cross Country World Cup team sprint in Ulricehamn, Sweden, finishing fourth and sixth respectively.
“I had a lot of fun being Sadie’s team sprint buddy today,” Diggins said following the eight-lap race on the same track she sprinted to third on Saturday. “This was a really hard course because it played to none of my strengths; it was windy, no big climbs, and pretty much impossible to drop people or even tire them out because the draft was so big.”
Both Diggins and Maubet Bjornsen pushed the pace through the race to try and break things up. However, the final sprint came down to positioning and luck. “With such a strong headwind, it was a tough position to lead from the front,” Maubet Bjornsen said. “My mission was to stay in the front and out of trouble, and then attack on leg 3. On such a drafty, tactical course Jessie and I had to get creative with our strengths. We would have loved to attempt to stretch people from the gun, but the wind was not in our favor.”
Slovenia took the win, with Sweden I in second and Switzerland in third. The top four teams were separated by only 0.31 seconds at the line with Switzerland taking third in a photo finish. “I played the cards I had and tried to push the pace,” Diggins recalled of her final leg, “then tucked in to prepare for a sprint finish but ended up too boxed in.”
“After finishing fourth by a photo finish, we both of course left wanting a bit more, but also felt like we did the best we could with our strengths,” Maubet Bjornsen added. “Even if I am 31 years old, I still feel like every race is a learning lesson, so there are no losses.”
In the men’s race, Hamilton and Bolger used many of the same tactics Diggins and Maubet Bjornson used - push the pace and stay near the front and out of trouble. Bolger skied the anchor leg and held the lead for the first half of the last lap but down the stretch, he also found himself boxed out. Italy I took the victory with Switzerland I second and Sweden II in third.
Diggins added another 12 points to her overall World Cup lead (1,246 points) over Russia Yulia Stupak (904) in second and Rosie Brennan in third (879). Neither Stupak nor Brennan competed Sunday.
Up next, many of the athletes will return to Davos, Switzerland, to prepare for the upcoming FIS Nordic World Championships Feb. 22-March 7 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
“I’m headed to Davos for a training camp in preparation for World Champs and excited to train with the team and be sure to absorb all the hard work I’ve put in over the past few weeks,” Diggins said.
“Each race back on the World Cup, I feel a little less dusty, so I look forward to showing up at World Championships both excited and full of fitness,” Said Maubet Bjornsen, who will also join Diggins in Davos.