KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 19) – Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) anchored Team USA with Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) to ski into sixth place Wednesday during the men’s team sprint classic of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The women’s team, featuring rookie Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) and anchor Kikkan Randall (Achorage), finished eighth in the sprint classic. Team Finland took the gold for the men while Norway notched the Olympic title for the women. The team sprints will air on NBC’s Daytime Olympic coverage Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. EST and can be streamed in their entirety on NBCOlympics.com. The final cross country skiing events of the 2014 Sochi Games will be the women’s 30k freestyle race on Saturday Feb. 22 and the men’s 50k freestyle race Sunday Feb. 23.
Erik Bjornsen (right) anchored Team USA with Simi Hamilton to ski into sixth place Wednesday during the men’s team sprint classic of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. (Getty Images/AFP/Odd Andersen)
I was feeling good in the final. I just definitely left a little bit out there on the semis and so hopefully with more training and more experience I’ll be able to make it to the finals and have an effort left to be able to make a few surges in the finals. I didn’t quite feel that today.
I was super happy with sixth place. It’s always so hard to get knocked out in the first round. It was fun–a lot of skiing today, six laps of a pretty hard course. It’s a fun one. I really like the team sprint and hopefully in the future I can do it some more.
It’s a hard course, but at the same time it’s a super exciting course and stays fun. There’s a lot going on all the time so you’ve got to be focusing for four minutes straight per leg.
We were psyched to be able to ski with each other. I think we were both bummed that Andy (Newell) is not feeling well. This distance specialist really stepped up and he skied awesome. It’s super fun. Speaking for both of us, I think we felt really good in our semifinal.
The final was hard, to put it simply. It was kind of hammer down from the start. We just tried to hang in there and had fun with it. I think we’re both encouraged for the future and will be training hard so we can be top three in that event someday in the Olympics.
I was really excited coming into today. I was looking at every race here at the Olympics as a new opportunity for me. Sophie has been skiing so well, so I was really excited about our possibilities. I felt really good in the semifinal. I felt really relaxed skiing up front with those guys. Going into the last lap, I got the word from the coaches that we were in pretty solid qualifying position so I knew I didn’t need to totally dig deep in that final bit there, knowing that the pace was most likely going to be faster in the final.
I came into the final ready to chase and knew that the pace was going to be hard, but I felt flooded immediately going up that first hill. I just didn’t have the same pop as I did this morning, kind of a similar theme and feeling that I’ve had all through the last couple weeks. So I really just tried to keep fighting the whole way, even though we weren’t up fighting for the medals where we wanted to be.
That was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, I think. In the final I think people took off as hard as they could go right from the start. So it was a lot quicker pace than the semis and it strung out pretty quickly. So it was a fight the whole time up there.
I’m not at all disappointed. It’s a really strong field and its definitely not a given to even make it past the semis, so I was really happy to make the finals in the first place. I think we skied a strong race and went our hardest.