RUKA, Finland (Nov. 30) – Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) led the U.S. Ski Team with a 17th place in the 10k classic individual event in Ruka. Norway’s Therese Johaug took the win over teammate Marit Bjoergen and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk. In the men’s race, 22 year old Iivo Niskanen of Finland skied early to a strong lead and held on to win over Norway’s Martin Sundby (NOR). On the men’s side, Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) led the U.S. with a 52nd place finish. Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) was transported to a local medical facility for evaluation of an ankle injury following a crash on a steep and icy descent near the end of the men’s 15k.
Sadie Bjornsen, shown here racing at World Championships in Italy, led the U.S. Ski Team finishing 17th in the women's 10k classic World Cup in Ruka. (USSA-Sarah Brunson)
I always love classic races, but I tried to make it a goal of mine to come into this year not quite so hot. I’m really happy with how I felt but it was really hard.
It’s a fun weekend - double classic - and I felt good with the sprint qualifier but I had some tough luck with my skis yesterday in the sprint rounds. I wanted some redemption today and I’m happy with this race.
Lillihammer is, of course, the most challenging of World Cup courses so I feel good about having a strong result here (in Ruka) before next weekend’s events.
Being on the World Cup is more comfortable than it is intimidating for me now. I’m coming over here and I know that these are all friends and competitors that I’ve been around so I’m relaxed and I enjoy it.
It was a mixed bag for me this weekend. I was really happy with how the sprint went yesterday. I was really happy with qualifying and I made some tactical mistakes in the rounds but had good energy. Today, I went out of the gate with gusto but didn’t have the fire behind it. I was hoping for a little bit more but the plan is to build from here.
Now that we’re into the race season, there isn’t time to make big changes to training. With three days next weekend, It will be good to make those big efforts and to see how it feels.
This team is so fun to be a part of and it’s so energetic. It’s really cool to ski when one of us skis well and the team is behind you and you feel that. Also, when I came into the wax cabin being disappointed myself, the energy of the team picked me up and made a tough day a little easier. This team makes this whole journey a lot more fun.
Matt Whitcomb, Head Women’s Coach
We came into this weekend, not firing on all cylinders by design. We decided not to go to a venue at a FIS race before Ruka. We instead had a more casual camp with good training and ski testing. This period one of racing isn’t the priority. The priority starts with World Championships.
The great thing about this team is that there are so many strengths. Ida carried us yesterday and Sadie carried us today among other solid performances.
(Development coach) Bryan Fish was right there when (Noah) crashed. Treatment was executed really well. He was splinted and had pain in his ankle and a in his knee. It was on a really steep, hard right descent late in the race right after a really tough climb and it was icy. An injury like this is pretty unusual. There wasn’t anything with the course it was just an odd fall.