Nordic

Illness Takes Toll On U.S. Team In France

by
Tom Kelly
2016-12-17 04:38
 

LA CLUSAZ, France (Dec. 17, 2016) – Rosie Brennan (Anchorage) skied to a strong 22nd place Saturday to lead an illness-ravaged U.S. Ski Team in a women’s 10k freestyle mass start World Cup in La Clusaz. Heidi Weng led a Norwegian sweep of the podium. Both Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) and Sadie Bjornsen (Anchorage) were unable to start due to illness.

“Unfortunately, I got in a tangle about 100 meters into the race, spun around and fell over, leaving me headed up the first hill in last place,” said Brennan. “I was able to quickly regroup and found Liz who also had a tough start. We are both better on the climbs so we just moved together through the field as best as we could, picking people off one by one on every uphill and holding it together on every downhill.”

The race was run on a narrow swath of snow, but the track was excellent. “It is truly amazing what the organizers were able to do without any snow!” said Brennan. “We had a solid 2k loop that held up remarkably well. It didn't break down much or get too icy.”

Brennan had also been feeling the impact of illness last week in Davos. “Our team has been destroyed by illness the last few weeks,” she said. “It was so sad to not have the full squad out there, but I was happy to have come back from the illness myself after sitting out last weekend and I'm sure everyone will be back in force after the holidays.” 

Caitlin Patterson (Anchorage) set the early pace for the USA, skiing in the high teens to low 20s, with Brennan and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) further back. Around the midway point, Patterson began to drop back with Stephen and Brennan moving up. Stephen ended up 23rd, one spot behind Brennan, while Patterson dropped back out of the points in 37th, one spot behind Kikkan Randall (Anchorage).

“I was moderately satisfied with my race today,” said Randall. “I had a good first half but there were a few windows to pull a little more out of myself in the second half that I didn’t quite get today. Going to learn from this and keep pushing forward.”

Randall, who took last season off to have a baby, has been making slow and steady progress in her return.

“I’ve had some indications in the first period that my fitness is better than my results are showing and that is a matter of sharpening my race form,” she added. “I’m still working on relearning how to handle the race effort feelings after my year away from racing.  Every race is helping me get a little bit closer.”

With the illness, Sunday’s starting lineup for the 4x5k relay remains in jeopardy. Coaches will make the determination Sunday morning. The women have been on the podium in the last three team events.

In the men’s 15k, Eric Bjornsen (Anchorage) was 20th to lead the USA and score his first skate distance points. Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO), still feeling impact of illness, was 49th.HIGHLIGHTS

  • Illness took its toll with Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) and Sadie Bjornsen (Anchorage, AK) forced to sit out the 10k freestyle mass start in La Clusaz.
  • Rosie Brennan (Anchorage, AK) set the pace for the USA in 22nd with Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) 23rd.
  • The lineup for Sunday’s 4x5k relay is undecided.

 

QUOUES
Rosie Brennan
Unfortunately, I got in a tangle about 100 meters into the race, spun around and fell over, leaving me headed up the first hill in last place. I was able to quickly regroup and found Liz who also had a tough start. We are both better on the climbs so we just moved together through the field as best as we could, picking people off one by one on every uphill and holding it together on every downhill.

It is truly amazing what the organizers were able to do without any snow! We had a solid 2k loop that held up remarkably well. It didn't break down much or get too icy.

Our team has been destroyed by illness the last few weeks. It was so sad to not have the full squad out there, but I was happy to have come back from the illness myself after sitting out last weekend and I'm sure everyone will be back in force after the holidays.

Kikkan Randall
I was moderately satisfied with my race today.  I had a good first half but there were a few windows to pull a little more out of myself in the second half that I didn’t quite get today. Going to learn from this and keep pushing forward.

I’ve had some indications in the first period that my fitness is better than my results are showing and that is a matter of sharpening my race form. I’m still working on relearning how to handle the race effort feelings after my year away from racing.  Every race is helping me get a little bit closer.

RESULTS
Women’s 10k freestyle mass start
Men’s 15k freestyle mass start