Simi Hamilton, shown here during the sprint event, anchored the U.S. men’s relay team Friday at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst)
LAHTI, Finland (Mar. 3, 2017) - More than a week into the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, the Norwegian men have their first gold. It was the ninth-straight World Championships men’s relay win for Norway. The USA finished 10th.
In a start to finish battle, Norway and Russia battled head to head through the two classic legs separated only by seconds. On the first freestyle leg, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby put the hammer down, pushing Norway to a 17.7 second lead. In the end, Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh held off Sergey Ustiugov to seal the gold.
Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie, MN) opened the first classic leg for the USA, handing off to Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA). The USA was 11th after classic legs. Tad Elliott (Durango, CO) drew first freestyle leg followed by Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) in anchor position. Hamilton had the sixth fastest leg time to move the USA up to 10th.
The men wrap up the championships Sunday with a 50k freestyle mass start. The women will ski the 30k freestyle Saturday with starters to include Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis), Chelsea Holmes (Anchorage) and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT).
QUOTES Kyle Bratrud It was an honor leading off in the relay for the US. I tried to limit the amount of time lost in order to give Erik a shot at making contact with the group. I know he is classic skiing really well, so I was hoping that would be possible. However, Russia and Norway really punched it and I wasn't strong enough to put Erik in the position I wanted to put him in. Really proud of how the other guys skied. Every race over here is a learning experience and I am really excited for another one.
Simi Hamilton Kyle and Erik held their own in what was a tough-paced first half of the leg. Tad skied a really solid third leg to make up some time on the teams in front of us. That was an incredibly impressive performance considering he skied his entire leg alone and he showed amazing maturity with pacing his leg well, something that is much easier said than done in a relay.
I was for sure happy with how my leg went. When Tad tagged me, I was only about 15 seconds down to a pack of three, so I focused on starting fast but controlled to try to bridge the gap up to them as quickly as possible. I managed to do that within the first km, and then I just focused on keeping the pace high but still controlled. The depth of the slush on most of the skate course was pretty unbelievable.