Nordic

Diggins and Bjornsen Lead U.S. in Sweden

by
USSA
2016-02-13 12:55
 

FALUN, Sweden (February 13, 2016) – Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S team on Saturday in a FIS World Cup 5k individual classic race, finishing fifth as teammate Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) followed close behind in seventh.

“I’m so very happy with my race today, and with the whole team’s day,” said Diggins. “We had awesome skis and to have two of us in the top 10 is awesome! I love racing here in Falun - I have wonderful memories from the World Championships last year.”

Despite a few weeks of tough results, Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) persevered and remained resilient going into the men’s 10k classic on Saturday where he led the U.S. men in 21st. In a very tight and competitive race, where the top five men were separated by just 9.5 seconds, Bjornsen proved his strengths in classic skiing once again and finished just one minute behind winner Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia.

“I’m so impressed with Erik Bjornsen,” said coach Matt Whitcomb. “He’s been flat for a while and one of the hardest things in sport is to find the belief that today you can come out of the slump. Watching Erik start, it was immediately evident that he was going for it.”

In the women’s 5k, Norway swept the podium as Therese Johaug won her 13th race of the season by 18.6 over teammates Heidi Weng and Ingvild Oestberg. In the men’s 10k competition, Norway was absent from the podium as Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin snatched first from teammate Alexander Bessmertnykh just 3.5 seconds ahead. France’s Maurice Manificat claimed another spot on the podium, settling for third after narrowly missing second by 0.1 seconds. Norway’s Martin Sundby, the overall World Cup leader, finished fifth, 9.5 seconds behind Vylegzhanin.

“Our athletes found the technique and fitness to match the demands of the conditions, and our service crew found the wax to help them along,” said Whitcomb. “At the end of the day, the best skis in the world won’t give an athlete enough to win on the Mordarbakken course. Jessie and Sadie were just awesome.”

Diggins has been working hard to creep up in the classic race results and Saturday’s 5k proved that hard work pays off.

“I’ve been working so hard for a long time on improving my classic skiing so that I can be an all-round skier and competitive in every technique and distance,” she said. “So to have it starting to come together this year has been a big confidence booster and a lot of fun!”

“I really enjoy the courses here in Falun, and I was ready for a little redemption after some frustrating classic results lately... so it was nice to prove to myself that I can fight in this crew when things line up,” said Sadie Bjornsen.

Competition continues in Falun, Sweden, Sunday with a 15/10k freestyle mass start.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Norway’s Therese Johaug is leading the overall World Cup standings with 1744 points. Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Ørtberg is second with 1612, followed by Norway’s Heidi Weng in third with 1301.Jessie Diggins (530) and Sadie Bjornsen (448) are 13th and 15th, respectively in the overall World Cup standings.
  • Norway’s Therese Johaug has won all five single distance races in the World Cup this season, excluding tour stages. In addition, Johaug has also won both World Cup tours held.
  • Norway’s Martin Sundby has already set a new record for the number of wins in a season, with 11 World Cup victories this season. Petter Northug, who won nine World Cup races in 2009/2010 and 2012/2013, held the previous record.
  • The top five men today were separated by just 9.5 seconds.  
  • It was Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin’s 8th career World Cup victory.
  • The 15/10k freestyle mass start will be streamed live beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on NBC Sports Live Extra.

 

QUOTES

Jessie Diggins
I’m so very happy with my race today, and with the whole team’s day! We had awesome skis and to have two of us in the top 10 is awesome! I’ve been working so hard for a long time on improving my classic skiing so that I can be an all-round skier and competitive in every technique and distance. So to have it starting to come together this year has been a big confidence booster and a lot of fun!

I love racing here in Falun - I have wonderful memories from the World Championships last year and I’m excited for tomorrow’s race as well.

Sadie Bjornsen
I had an incredibly fun day out there today, and felt strong on my skis. I really enjoy the courses here in Falun, and I was ready for a little redemption after some frustrating classic results lately ... so it was nice to prove to myself that I can fight in this crew when things line up. It is also nice to see Diggs up there too, that girl has proven she can do anything and everything the best in the world.

Matt Whitcomb
The track was squirrelly and demanded a patient kick. It makes Jessie and Sadie’s top-10 finishes so impressive. It was easy to have either fast skis or great kick, but finding the balance today was hard. Our athletes found the technique and fitness to match the demands of the condition, and our service crew found the wax to help them along. At the end of the day, the best skis in the world won’t give an athlete enough to win on the Mordarbakken course. Jessie and Sadie were just awesome.

I’m so impressed with Erik Bjornsen. He’s been flat for a while, and one of the hardest things in sport is to find the belief that today you can come out of the slump. Watching Erik start, it was immediately evident that he was going for it. The fitness never comes around unless the mind lets it back in the door.

Live Streaming (times EST)

Sunday, Feb. 14
5:30 a.m. - 15/10k freestyle mass start, Falun, Sweden - NBC Sports Live Extra

RESULTS
Men’s 10k Classic
Women’s 5k Classic