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Grinding It Out
Elite skier news

Erik Bjornsen earned his first win of the Nordic ski race season Saturday (Dec. 14) by taking first place in the men’s 1.6k freestyle sprint in Rossland, B.C.

Bjornsen and three other elite skiers from the Methow Valley were competing in the Canadian Continental Cup NorAm series.

Bjornsen, who races for Alaska Pacific University and the U.S. Ski Team, told that he got lucky in the semi-final heat when two Canadians fell and he advanced to the final heat. “When I made the move…in the finish I could see the win. I was just a happy little bear,” he said.

Sam Naney (Methow Olympic Development) also entered the sprint. He qualified in 8th place and finished in 21st after another skier fell on top of him, according to an update on the MOD blog.

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) was fighting a cold and skipped the sprints. He said that meant he could wax Caitlin’s skis.

Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) took 6th place in the women’s 1.4k freestyle sprint on Saturday. She crossed the finish line in 4th place but collided with U.S. skier Jennie Bender, who fell while Gregg stayed upright.

The officials bumped Gregg to 6th place. “I was relegated to 6th place and I deserved it,” she said in an email to

However, Gregg took a solid 4th place on Sunday (Dec. 15) in the women’s 10k classic event.

In the men’s 15k classic on Sunday, Bjornsen also took 4th place. Brian Gregg finished in 17th place. Naney did not race.

In an email to Grist, Brian Gregg said it was “really fun to have the Methow crew up here in Rossland this weekend. The MVNT [Methow Valley Nordic Team] kids were the best … cheering on the course, yelling super loud and running alongside us.”

The U.S. National Championship races in Soldier Hollow, Utah, in early January are the next competition for these elite skiers.

World Cup Results

The U.S. Ski Team’s Sadie Bjornsen, Erik’s sister, continued her World Cup race season in Davos, Switzerland, where she made the quarter-finals in the women’s 1.5k freestyle sprint on Sunday.

She qualified in 18th place but finished in 27th after falling on the last corner as she tried to make a tight turn, according to

But for the second week in a row, the U.S. sprinters showed they are skiers to be reckoned with leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February.

Bjornsen’s teammate, Kikkan Randall, took 2nd place to Norway’s 1st in a photo finish. All told, six American skiers, four women and two men, qualified for the sprint competition.

Karen West

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