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Mazama athlete punches Olympic ticket

Bjornsen will compete in Sochi, Russia, in February

— Sadie Bjornsen celebrated qualifying for the U.S. Olympic cross country ski team by taking a long run on the snow in France.

“I am really excited to have made the team,” Bjornsen said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. It is going to be a huge honor to compete in my first games, and already I am counting down the days until it will begin.”

Bjornsen, 24, learned she reached the first objective for making the team and heading to Sochi, Russia, a couple weeks ago, that being a Top 50 placing in the World Cup standings. She finished in the middle of the standings.

“The team is not officially named until Jan. 22, so it just meant that I had made the criteria,” she said while traveling from Poland to Italy on Monday.

“I did a little celebration myself and went for an awesome ski afterwards,” she said. “Soon after I sent an email to my family and announced the news.”

“She has had an actually amazing first half of season,” mother Mary Bjornsen said. “Only three guys and seven women have been named to team. All the other will be by discretion (of coaches). No one knows how many they are taking.”

Everyone back home in the Methow Valley is holding their breath in hopes her brother Erik Bjornsen, 22, will be named to the U.S. men’s team.

“I am definitely rooting for Erik!” Sadie Bjornsen emailed. “There would be nothing more special than having my brother join me for our first Olympic Games together. We have both been working really hard at this, and encouraging each other along; and I think we are both capable of competing with the best.”

Erik Bjornsen was traveling Monday from Poland to the U23 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

“He’s raced those courses, so he is quite excited about that,” Mary said.

Erik sounded pessimistic about his chances for the U.S. team when contacted Sunday night.

He said, “Wish I could give you better news, but pretty sure I missed the cut. The (USA) team will be announced Tuesday. I will let you know.”

“Anyone who knows Sadie in the Methow Valley is thrilled,” said Pat Leigh, spokesman for the Elite Opportunity Fund that financially supports valley skiers, including the Bjornsens. “We are so excited to follow her in races this season and into the Olympics. Everyone is cheering for Sadie and hoping upon hope that Erik makes the team as well.

“It would be so much fun to watch brother and sister compete at Sochi. We’re hoping for other elite skiers in the valley as well.”

Others valley cross country skiers fighting for berths included Brian and Caitlin Gregg.

Tom and Mary Bjornsen are flying to Italy Wednesday to see their children. They will watch a couple of Erik’s races Jan. 29-30 then speed to Sadie’s races Feb. 1-2. Sadie will fly to Munich, Germany, to join with the rest of the U.S. Winter Olympic team before flying to Sochi.

The family, which has never been to Europe, will not be attending the Olympics due to the expense and security.

“Both of our kids have been very up front that if they make it, they did not expect us there,” Mary said. “Security will be super, super tight. Last year at the World Cup in Sochi a bottle of water was $9.”

Sadie, who takes classes between training sessions and races, has been fighting stomach flu on and off for several weeks.

The flu has now gone away, but viruses are all different,” she said. “Sometimes they stick around, sometimes they seem to hit twice, sometimes they take one day to get over.

“I had a longer fight with this one, but I was just sure to be very cautious with the Olympics around the corner, so I have done a good recovery,” she said. “This past week and a half has been a lot of resting, a good time to focus on some school, and a lot of mental positive vibes in order to get back healthy and ready for three weeks.”

This week she started a nine-day high-altitude training block in Seiser Alm, Italy.

“I will be here doing the last preparations before the final weekend of World Cup races two weekends away (Feb. 1-2), and then we get on a plane two days after for Sochi,” she said.

The siblings attempt to make the U.S. teams garnered lots of attention this winter, National Public Radio interviewed the family (less Sadie who was in Europe) over the Christmas holiday while putting on an annual ski clinic for the area’s children.

The segment was used when Sadie earned a berth on the U.S. ski team.

“We were down at nationals (to watch Erik win for a second year) when the story came out,” Mary said. “It was on the radio. A lot of people heard it. I know people in Florida heard it. I didn’t realize NPR was so national.”

Sadie recently had a page dedicated to her in Mountain Magazine.

Valley biathlon skiers and gunners Casey Smith and Kelsie Dickinson are representing the valley and U.S. in Europe right now.

Smith, who recently took first place overall in the U.S. Biathlon Olympic trial races in Grand Rapids, Minn., is competing in Italy.

Dickinson, a Methow Valley Biathlon Team graduate, will be competing World Youth and Junior Biathlon Championships and the Open European Championships later this month.

Roberto Costa Ebech

Sadie Bjornsen competes in a FIS World Cup Race competed Dec. 21-22 in Asiago, Italy. Bjornsen and teammate Kikkan Randall teamed to finish fifth in classic technique team sprint Dec. 22. The finish matches the USA best in classic team sprint, which will be competed in Sochi, Russia, during the Olympics.

Mary Bjornsen using a timer

The Bjornsen family posed for a photo over the holidays in 2012. They included, from left, Sadie, Kaley, Tom, Erik and Mary. night.

He said, “Wish I could give you better news, but pretty sure I missed the cut. The (USA) team will be announced Tuesday. I will let you know.”

“Anyone who knows Sadie in the Methow Valley is thrilled,” said Pat Leigh, spokesman for the Elite Opportunity Fund that financially supports valley skiers, including the Bjornsens. “We are so excited to follow her in races this season and into the Olympics. Everyone is cheering for Sadie and hoping upon hope that Erik makes the team as well.

“It would be so much fun to watch brother and sister compete at Sochi. We’re hoping for other elite skiers in the valley as well.”

Other valley cross country skiers fighting for berths included Brian and Caitlin Gregg.

Tom and Mary Bjornsen are flying to Italy on Wednesday to see their children. They will watch a couple of Erik’s races Jan. 29-30, then speed to Sadie’s races Feb. 1-2. Sadie will fly to Munich, Germany, to join with the rest of the U.S. Winter Olympic team before flying to Sochi.

The family, which has never been to Europe, will not be attending the Olympics due to the expense and security.

“Both of our kids have been very up front that if they make it, they did not expect us there,” Mary said. “Security will be super, super tight. Last year at the World Cup in Sochi a bottle of water was $9.”

Sadie, who takes classes between training sessions and races, has been fighting stomach flu on and off for several weeks.

“The flu has now gone away, but viruses are all different,” she said. “Sometimes they stick around, sometimes they seem to hit twice, sometimes they take one day to get over.

“I had a longer fight with this one, but I was just sure to be very cautious with the Olympics around the corner, so I have done a good recovery,” she said. “This past week and a half has been a lot of resting, a good time to focus on some school, and a lot of mental positive vibes in order to get back healthy and ready for three weeks.”

This week she started a nine-day, high-altitude training block in Seiser Alm, Italy.

“I will be here doing the last preparations before the final weekend of World Cup races two weekends away (Feb. 1-2), and then we get on a plane two days after for Sochi,” she said.

The siblings’ attempt to make the U.S. teams garnered lots of attention this winter. National Public Radio interviewed the family (less Sadie, who was in Europe) over the Christmas holiday while putting on an annual ski clinic for the area’s children.

The segment was used when Sadie earned a berth on the U.S. ski team.

“We were down at nationals (to watch Erik win for a second year) when the story came out,” Mary said. “It was on the radio. A lot of people heard it. I know people in Florida heard it. I didn’t realize NPR was so national. I don’t listen to the radio too much.”

Sadie recently had a page dedicated to her in Mountain Magazine.

Valley biathlon skiers and gunners Casey Smith and Kelsie Dickinson are representing the valley and U.S. in Europe right now.

Smith, who recently took first place overall in the U.S. Biathlon Olympic trial races in Grand Rapids, Minn., is competing in Italy.

Dickinson, a Methow Valley Biathlon Team graduate, will be competing World Youth and Junior Biathlon Championships and the Open European Championships later this month.

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