World Champion Jessie Diggins anchored a strong U.S. team made up of Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen to take third in the 4x5k relay and match the best-ever World Cup result for any U.S. cross country relay team. (Getty Images/AFP/Haakon Mosvold Larsen)
LILLEHAMMER, Norway (Dec. 8) - World Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) anchored a strong U.S. team made up of Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) to take third in the 4x5k relay and match the best-ever World Cup result for any U.S. cross country relay team. Heavy snow hammered the 1994 Olympic course, but Randall was able to give the team a solid start in the podium hunt. Norway I took the relay. Next weekend the World Cup moves to Davos, Switzerland where the men and women will race a 30k/15k freestyle distance race and a freestyle sprint.
World Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) anchored a strong U.S. team made up of Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) to take third in the 4x5k relay and match the best-ever World Cup result for any U.S. cross country relay team.
Last November in Gaellivare, Sweden, the women's team made history with a third-place finish in the team relay.
Heavy snow hammered the 1994 Olympic course on Sunday, but Randall was able to give the team a solid start in the podium hunt during her classic leg, fighting through the lead pack and passing off in third.
Bjornsen then battled back and forth with Finland for second in her classic leg before handing off in third as well.
Stephen dueled throughout the first skating leg and kept off Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla, who closed a huge gap and skied onto Stephen’s tails into the exchange. Stephen handed off in third during the final exchange.
Diggins took over and built a lead over Sweden before she fell and broke a pole during a downhill section in the last lap. Then, in an inspiring act of sportsmanship, the Norwegian team support staff handed Diggins a pole, helping her hold her position and earn the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team its second-ever World Cup relay podium.
Norway I took the relay, while a second U.S. team finished 12th.
Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT/APU Nordic) anchored the second U.S. team, which also included Sophie Caldwell (Peru, UT), Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Holly Brooks (Anchorage).
Also on Sunday, the U.S. men’s relay team finished 17th with the Russia I team taking the win.
Next weekend the World Cup moves to Davos, Switzerland where the men and women will race a 30k/15k freestyle distance race and a freestyle sprint.
QUOTES Jessie Diggins I pushed hard over the top in the big hill and I was opening up a gap on Finland. I got in the track on the downhill because it was fastest, but then it got really sketchy and powdery pretty quickly. I just was tired and caught my tip in the powder and went down hard. I lost all my momentum, broke my pole, had to ski over a bridge that you normally glide over with one pole. But on the downhill the Norwegian team actually gave me a pole, which saved me because I was able to hold our third place spot.
On crossing the finishing line–I’m really psyched that we got a medal. I think our team skied great. I’m so proud of my teammates, both teams, all eight of us. But I was really mad at myself because I think we could have gotten silver. I think silver was mine to lose for us and I managed to fall. I’m not proud of that. I am psyched that we were able to get another medal, tying our best result ever. I think that everyone is in great shape. I think this bodes really well for Sochi. I need to just work on my downhills. That said, this was a great race for us and I’m really proud.
Kikkan Randall It’s just so cool coming into today having the confidence from that result last season. We know we can put together a good day. We can be not only in a play for the podium but even moving up on the podium. We were really excited to go out there to ski in the lead group. It was really challenging conditions with the snow today. It definitely changed a lot from yesterday. For me on the first leg it actually worked out well to be in the front and control the pace in the first lap. Then when the break happened in the second lap there was good energy to chase after it and keep us in a good position.
Sadie Bjornsen It was very fun to race today with lots of girls in the pack and two US teams doing really well! It was a tough race where you had to fight in the snow over the broken hill tops.
It was extra fun today because it’s the first time I’ve been on the podium with this team. It was fun with all the snow today. It was a different day. It was not perfect conditions and you knew that some things were going to be happening out there, maybe falls or maybe something in the snow that you can’t see from the stadium. It’s just really fun to not have perfect conditions and still be able to ski with those girls and really be in the fight with them.
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