SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Jan. 6) - Torin Koos (Wenatchee, WA) of the Bridger Ski Foundation and APU Nordic's Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) were winners Sunday on day three of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow. Koos won the men's 30k classic with a final sprint to breakaway from the field in the last kilometer. APU Nordic's Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) was second and David Norris (Fairbanks, AK) of Montana State University took bronze.
Sadie Bjornsen won her first gold after a pair of silvers this week, taking the 20k win over APU Nordic's Kate Fitzgerald (Palmer, AK) and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) of Stratton Mountain. The Championships wrapup Tuesday with freestyle sprints.
Sadie Bjornsen celebrates her win in the women's 20k classic at the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow. (USSA-Sarah Brunson)
- Torin Koos (Wenatchee, WA/Bridger Ski Foundation) won his eighth career U.S. title and second of the week at the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow.
- Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA/APU Nordic) won her first gold of the week after a pair of silvers. It was a second career U.S. title.
- Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA/APU Nordic), who took gold in the 15k freestyle Friday, won his second silver of the week. David Norris (Fairbanks, AK/Montana State Univ.) was bronze.
- Kate Fitzgerald (Palmer, AK/APU Nordic) picked up her second medal, this time silver. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT/Stratton Mountain) was bronze.
- Over 430 athletes are taking part in the U.S. Cross Country Championships on the Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow. The race was run under overcast skies and temperatures in the 20s. Action will conclude with freestyle sprints Tuesday.
It feels great to win these titles here. It's always good to get that first one done. This one is maybe even a little more special in that this is the first time that I've done a national championship distance race and come across the line first. It's like a new experience.
I put in a huge move with about 500 meters to go and tried to blow up the race. There was probably about eight or 10 of us. And I just thought "OK, I've got to go". So I just put everything into the move and was hanging on a little bit and fortunately I had enough to do that. It's an amazing feeling to come down the finish line and realize I'm going to do it.
I have been looking forward to trying to get a win this week so I'm happy to get to stand on the top. Today my goal was to do my best out there and not walk away from the day feeling like I could have made improvements. Every race you go into it with the goal of winning. The last two races it's been a small margin, so I knew today it was my opportunity since classic is a strength of mine. I knew the key was to go out there and relax and go for it when I could.
I've never skied a classic race for this long, so I knew the key was just going to be to relax through it. I tried to stay in the pack – lead some, follow some. Never blow out my legs. I think between all of us we did good work leading in different places. I knew when I saw Sophie [Caldwell] still in the pack that the sprinters were still hanging in and that it was going to be challenging coming down to the final sprint. On the sprint hill I tried to surge and break her legs a little bit and I looked and she was still with me and so going up the hill I just gave it my all and I could hear that the gap was growing bigger. From there I just hammered the rest of the way home. Going up the final climb I lost her.