Rosie Brennan called it “a total grind.” Sadie Bjornsen called it “work, work, work.”
Challenged by new snow overnight and falling snow during the race, the Anchorage skiers racked up top-15 finishes Saturday in a World Cup race in Beitostolen, Norway.
Brennan placed 15th and Bjornsen was 13th in the 15-kilometer freestyle race, giving the United States three women in the top 15. Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins led the way with an eighth-place finish, her best result of the season.
Norway’s Therese Johaug, back after an 18-month suspension for using a banned substance, won the race in 37 minutes, 33.9 seconds. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla was more than a minute behind in second place, two-tenths of a second ahead of third-place Ingvild Oestberg of Norway.
Bjornsen finished 2:22.9 behind Johaug for her sixth top-15 result of the season, which places her ninth in the World Cup rankings.
Brennan was 2:33.9 back to continue a strong comeback after battling mononucleosis last season. She owns three top-15 finishes and has scored World Cup points by notching top-30 finishes in five of this season’s six races.
“Today’s race was just a total grind,” Brennan, a 2018 Olympian, said by email. “There was very little rest out there making for a tough day.
“… I tried to pace a little the first two laps and ... let loose the last lap. I didn’t have as much left as I had hoped in the end, but I am happy to have held steady and not drop any places.”
Bjornsen, a two-time Olympian, said she chose to go hard the entire race.
“With the falling snow, and the gradual terrain out there, there wasn’t a second to rest your muscles, mind, or lungs,” she said by email. "I went out super hard, and did my very best to hold for as long as I could, but discovered a minor explosion in my muscles midway through.”
Caitlin Patterson of Anchorage, who trains in Vermont, finished one spot out of World Cup points in 31st place.
Her brother, Scott Patterson, was the top American man in the men’s 30K freestyle race. Norway’s Sjur Rothe won the race in 1:09.53.5, a little more than 35 seconds ahead of teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby.
Three APU skiers led the way for the U.S. team. Patterson was 4:32.7 behind Rothe in 47th place, David Norris was 5:13.3 back in 51st place and Erik Bjornsen, Sadie’s brother, was 5:14.9 back in 52nd place.