By Al Camp
SOCHI, RUSSIA – Sadie Bjornsen and her U.S. teammates produced the best-ever finish for a classic team sprint last weekend in World Cup racing.
Her brother, Erik, continues to get well after becoming ill a week ago. He’s in Davo, Switzerland, preparing for the Swiss Nationals this weekend.
He and Sadie Bjornsen will compete in a World Cup race the following week in Switzerland.
“(I spent) one week in the Olympic Village, one week getting to know the Olympic courses, and one week of figuring out the environment of Sochi,” Sadie Bjornsen said in her online blog at www.sadiebjornsen.blogspot.com. “In this one week, I feel like I have learned a ton. Not only have I learned the race courses, but also I have gotten to race them, and feel the true burn of what Sochi has.
“The exciting news is I had a personal best on every single one of these races on the Olympic course. Which means I walked away with a feeling of confidence, but also an understanding for what sort of improvements and skills I need to work on between now and the Olympic Games.”
The two-skier team sprint on Sunday was Sadie Bjornsen’s third race of the weekend.
In team sprint, racers go around a course three times before tagging off to another skier.
“So when your teammate is racing (about three minutes), you have to run around and stay warmed up while the wax tech's quickly put a fresh coat of wax on your skis,” said the skiers mother, Mary Bjornsen, who stayed up late to watch the races.
The team was third following several exchanges fore finishing fifth overall.
“Although not a gold, silver, or bronze, they made the podium in fifth and it made US history again with the best classic team sprint result ever,” Mary Bjornsen said. “So that was really awesome.
“She doesn't have a spot on the (Olympic) team yet, but her chances of going are very, very strong unless she is injured or sick next year. “
Sadie Bjornsen opened her weekend by competing in a classic sprint Feb. 1. She qualified ninth to heat racing, where she finished fifth and was 21st overall (her best ever finish).
“She made a bad move, which knocked her out of advancing to the semifinals,” Mary Bjornsen said.
The placement was in the Top 30, so she earned World Cup points, which is part of the qualifying process to make the U.S. Olympic team.
In a 15K pursuit on Saturday, she was 24th and earned more points. The race started with 7.5K of classic followed by an exchange and 7.5K of skate.
“It snowed a lot on both days and the waxing was a challenge on the classic skis,” Mary Bjornsen said. “Skating was in deep snow, which was also challenging. Sochi gets lots of snow even though it is just up off the Black Sea.”