Nordic Programs

Relay Hopefuls Ski to Ninth

by
USSA
2014-02-15 07:25
 

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 15) – Team USA left it all on the course Saturday but was not able to keep pace and finished ninth at the women’s 4x5k relay of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The relay was staged amidst the third day of spring-like temperatures at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center, where Team Sweden mounted a stunning comeback in the fourth leg to earn their first Olympic relay gold medal since 1960. NBC will air coverage of the women’s relay during their Olympic Daytime feature Saturday at 3:00 p.m. EST, and the event can be streamed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com. The men hit the course for the 4x10k relay Sunday.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Team USA left it all on the course Saturday but was not able to keep pace and finished ninth at the women’s 4x5k relay of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
  • The relay was staged amidst the third day of spring-like temperatures at the Laura Cross Country Ski Center, where the athletes battled against overheating during the demanding relay.
  • World Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) anchored Team USA in the final freestyle 5k, while fellow World Champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) kicked off the relay with a classic leg.
  • Rookie Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) ran the second classic leg and then Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) switched to freestyle for the third leg among an immensely talented field of skaters.
  • Team Sweden mounted a stunning comeback in the fourth leg to earn their country’s first Olympic relay gold medal since 1960. Team Finland took home the silver with Germany behind in bronze.
  • NBC will air coverage of the women’s relay during their Olympic Daytime feature Saturday at 3:00 p.m. EST, and the event can be streamed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com.
  • The men hit the course for the 4x10k relay Sunday.

QUOTES
Jessie Diggins
I’m really proud with how I skied. I pushed myself really hard. You know when you cross the finish line and you desperately need to puke that you’ve pushed hard. I know my teammates did the same.

That’s how we ski relays, we just give it everything we have. Sometimes that means we’re in the hunt for medals and sometimes that means we’re in the back of the pack, but I’m really proud with how we worked our best. We prepared as well as we could, we pushed ourselves as hard as we could, we believed in each other and that’s what matters. I’m just really proud of the team effort today.

This morning there was a ton of pressure and expectations with everyone saying, ‘This is it! This is your shot to win a medal.’ Realistically there were six or seven teams that had a shot to win that gold medal today, and as you saw, things didn’t shake down exactly how you might have expected them to every other World Cup weekend. So I just focused on the things I could control: when I was going to eat breakfast, how I was going to test my skis, when I was going to get on course to warm up. I memorized the course. I visualized it a ton of times. I prepared as well as I could and I know that my teammates prepared themselves as well as they could.

Kikkan Randall
That was a tough one today. I kind of went deep into the hurt box, and unfortunately kept getting slower and slower at the end–not what I wanted to do today.

I had a great first lap. I was staying up near the front, feeling good. The pace accelerated on the second lap, and I just flooded and couldn’t keep my tempo up. That’s where you really start to lose time. I’m kind of at a loss as to why. I had a great workout on the course two days ago and felt totally ready coming into today. I love the excitement of the head-to-head racing in these relays. It’s just a real bummer when you’ve got three teammates waiting for you. I really wanted to put us in a better position today.

The conditions were actually really good today. They salted the course and the track stayed really firm. My skis were incredible. I had great kick and I was gliding up on people so that was all set.

Sadie Bjornsen
Today I was sent out on the chase from the start. So that was fun just looking up the hill, seeing a person, trying to catch them and just knowing that every second I was picking away was a second more for those next girls. We all kept fighting today.

We’re at the highest level right now. We’re at the Olympic games and everyone is at their top shape. Just a small fraction off is where we are today and I think that we’re completely capable of winning medals. Today was maybe not our best day but that’s totally part of it.

Liz Stephen
We all fought as hard as we could and my brain was in it the entire time. I pretended Italy and I were out for silver and gold and went my hardest. I know Jessie did the same and I know Kikkan and Sadie did too. So that’s relay day. I’m very proud of our team and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be on such a strong women’s team. It might never be as amazing in the next ten years as it is right now, so I’m enjoying every second.

Today was about maybe we can bring one home, but win, lose or draw we are a fighting team that really embodies the team spirit of the Olympics and of sport. So I couldn’t be prouder.

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