Coming off her European World Cup debut, Craftsbury’s Caitlin Patterson reflects on her races and experience in Finland and Norway, her 2014/2015 season in general, and what she’s aiming for next year.
A trio of Americans finished in the top 20 of the final women’s World Cup race of the season, a 30-kilometer freestyle mass start in Holmenkollen, Norway. Liz Stephen led the U.S. team in ninth, Jessie Diggins took 14th, while Caitlin Gregg capped off an eventful World Cup season with a 19th-place finish.
Marit Bjørgen proved once again why she is the world’s best, saving one last attack to skate past Norwegian teammate Therese Johaug to take victory in the Holmenkollen 30 k and make it a clean sweep of the sprint, distance, and overally World Cup titles. Astrid Jacobsen outsprinted Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla for third place.
Andy Newell narrowly qualified in 28th, but made it into the semifinals and finished 12th overall in the season’s final World Cup sprint. Canada’s Lenny Valjas just missed out the semifinals and took 14th overall. Sadie Bjornsen was the lone North American woman to qualify and finished 26th overall after racing in the fastest quarterfinal heat.
Maiken Caspersen Falla shook off a slow start and problems with heat selection to win in Drammen, Norway, the last sprint competition of the World Cup season. Norwegian teammate Marit Bjørgen added the Sprint Cup title to her overall World Cup crystal globe, which is already clinched with one competition to go.
American Kikkan Randall finally found her old groove and raced to her best World Cup result of the season, finishing in third in Saturday’s freestyle sprint in Lahti, Finland. In a close finish, Marit Bjørgen of Norway won yet another World Cup race, expanding her lead in the overall standings and the sprint standings.
The 50 k classic mass start which wrapped up 2015 World Championships was punishing for everyone, and U.S. skiers Noah Hoffman and Erik Bjornsen were no exception. Hoffman didn’t feel his best and Bjornsen said he struggled with the slush and his own technique – but was trying to use the race as a learning experience. “I don’t think there’s any reason to sit out events like this,” he said.
When the French won bronze in the Sochi relay, it was the first championships-level relay medal ever in their history. But Norway had struggled then. Today they did not, and the French were still bronze. “Maybe we have some place in the newspaper tomorrow, but a little one,” Jean-Marc Gaillard said. “But that’s not the most important for us. The most important is to have fun with the team.”
Johan Olsson skied to a convincing victory in Wednesday’s 15 k freestyle in Falun, Sweden in front of a home crowd. The 34-year-old who focuses solely on championship race overcame what he called a “mission impossible” after facing a year of illness and time apart from his family. He was followed by Maurice Manificat who won France’s first medal in 10 years. Anders Gløersen of Norway finished third.