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Bjornsen and Stephen finish 14th and 15th in 10k classic pursuit

Sun, Jan  4, 2015 - By USSA

OBERSDORF, Germany (Jan. 4, 2015) – The seven-stage Tour de Ski entered day two with the U.S. Ski Team’s womem holding strong. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) finished 14th and 15th respectively, just two seconds from each other and fifty seconds away from the podium in a 10k classic pursuit. Norway’s Petter Northug and Marit Bjorgen took the wins and Tour lead.

“Things were out of this world great until about 5k. Conditions were icy, so I managed to wear my skis a bit too much on the downhills and began to struggle to find the bomber kick for the second half,” Bjornsen explained. “Fortunately, my skis were very fast, so I was managing to catch back up to the group after the slippery uphills. It was so much fun though to just feel strong and to find myself passing Justyna (Kowalczyk) at one point.”

Liz Stephen strides to another strong Tour de Ski finish in day two of the seven stage event in Oberstdorf. (Getty Images/Bongarts)

Liz Stephen strides to another strong Tour de Ski finish in day two of the seven stage event in Oberstdorf. (Getty Images/Bongarts)

Conditions have been fast and abrasive at the opening events in Obersdorf, the product of low snowfall and rain early on this week.

“Our wax techs have been killing it,” Liz Stephen explained after a particularly strong classic leg. “I'm definitely happy with my result. It's a long Tour still ahead and a lot can happen, but I am really happy with my first two stages for sure.”

Ski service through the week of racing is the, “race behind the race,” explained Head Coach, Chris Grover. “Part of the fun of the Tour de Ski is how tiring the event is not only for athletes, but also for the staff. As coaches and technicians, we’ll be working 16-hour days for 9 days straight, and we will be exhausted by the end of the Tour. Staying healthy through this Tour is the race behind the race. The fun comes in the fact that there is no down-time for anyone during the Tour, and in watching how the athletes respond to the daily racing load.”

Racing continues on Tuesday with a freestyle sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland.

HIGHLIGHTS

Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) posted the best U.S. results of the classic 10K pursuit race finishing 14th and 15th overall.

Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) finished 44th

Erik Bjornsen (Wintrhop, WA) led the U.S. men in 60th place. Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) was 61st.

Norway's Marit Bjorgen won the women’s event by nearly a minute and Petter Northug took the top position in the men’s race.

QUOTES

Sadie Bjornsen

What a super fun race!! Things were out of this world great until about 5k. Conditions were icy, so I managed to wear my skis a bit too much on the downhills and began to struggle to find the bomber kick for the second half. But fortunately, my skis were very fast, so I was managing to catch back up to the group after the slippery uphills. It was so much fun though to just feel strong and even find myself passing Justyna at one point. I also got to ski with Liz a bit and see her put together an amazing race!! Now a day to recover, a little travel, and this crazy exciting thing gets going again! So fun!!

Liz Stephen

The conditions were definitely tricky, as it poured rain and was super windy from noon yesterday until about 4 this morning so the organizers had a lot of work to do putting the course back together again after such a tough night. Banners were blown away, tv camera stands blown down and cameras broken beyond repair, not to mention bows and debris in the trail. It's amazing that the race conditions were as good as they were today. Again, my skis were amazing and I was able to ski the way I wanted to.

I'm definitely happy with my result. It's a long Tour still ahead and a lot can happen, but I am really happy with my first two stages for sure. Really fun to have Sadie to ski with too!

Kikkan Randall

I went into today's race feeling optimistic about building off of yesterday's good start. With the tight start times, I knew it would be a good chance to ski with strong classic skiers.

I had a solid first lap, moving up a couple places. But heading into the 2nd lap i wasn't able to hold the same pace and started slipping on the climbs. It was a struggle then until the finish. 44th place.

I was hoping to be stronger today. I was mostly focused on the effort and pace over the results and I ended up a little below my expectations. However, I know that today's race was a good workout that will help me keep moving forward. Just have to be patient.

I'm really looking forward to the skate sprint on Tuesday in Val Mustair, our next race race after tomorrow's rest day. It is a good course for me and I've heard they've added a jump! My skate sprinting has been feeling stronger and stronger!

The tour is all about racing and then moving right on to the next day. So, on to Switzerland!

TOUR DE SKI SCHEDULE

Saturday, Jan. 3 – Oberstdorf, Germany
Men’s 4k freestyle prologue 
Women’s 3k freestyle prologue

Sunday, Jan. 4 – Oberstdorf, Germany
Men’s 15k classic pursuit
Women’s 10k classic pursuit

Tuesday, Jan. 5 – Val Mustair, Switzerland
Men’s and women’s freestyle sprint

Wednesday, Jan. 6 – Toblach, Italy
Men’s 10k classic
Women’s 5 k classic

Thursday, Jan. 7 – Toblach, Italy
Men’s 35k freestyle pursuit
Women’s 15k freestyle pursuit

Saturday, Jan. 9 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s 15k classic mass start
Women’s 10k classic mass start

Sunday, Jan. 10 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s and women’s 9k freestyle pursuit (hill climb)