Anchorage skier Caitlin Patterson joined an elite yet expanding club Sunday.
The 26-year-old scored the first World Cup points of her racing career by placing 25th in the women's 10-kilometer freestyle race in Falun, Sweden.
Patterson became the seventh American woman to score World Cup points in a distance race this season, a show of force never seen before from the U.S. team.
The breakthrough result came in Patterson's fourth World Cup race this season and the 12th of her career.
She was one of three Americans in the top 30 of the mass-start race, a group led by fourth-place Jessie Diggins of Minnesota. Vermont's Liz Stephen placed 14th.
"The real excitement happened when Caitlin Patterson scored her first World Cup points," U.S. Ski Team coach Matt Whitcomb said in a press release. "These points now mean that seven U.S. women have been in the distance points this year, and that is something to get excited about.
"Once you're in the points, new horizons open."
Of the seven women who have scored point with top-30 results, three come from Anchorage. Besides Patterson -- a South High graduate and former Alaska Winter Stars team member – Alaska Pacific University skiers Sadie Bjornsen and Rosie Brennan have both been in the points this season.
The rest of the group includes Diggins -- who posted top-5 finishes in back-to-back races in Falun -- Stephen, Sophie Caldwell of Vermont and Caitlin Gregg of Minnesota.
Brennan placed 48th in Sunday's 10-K, which was won by Norway's Therese Johaug.
The winner of two national championships last month in Michigan, Patterson, a University of Vermont graduate who trains with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project in Vermont, is a relative newcomer to the World Cup tour.
She joined this season's circuit a little more than a week ago and has skied in four races since, with her previous best a 36th-place showing in a 30-K classic Feb. 6 in Oslo, Norway.
Patterson told fasterskier.com that her confidence has gotten a boost from spending time at fall camps with the U.S. Ski Team's top racers and from training with World Cup veteran Ida Sargent, her teammate on Vermont's Craftsbury Green Racing Project team.
"I think now that I'm over here in Europe, it helps ... to have seen that my fitness is close to theirs in training sessions, to help me convince myself that if I can ski with them, and they can ski with the best in the world, then maybe I can ski with the best in the world too," she told the website.
Among Patterson's World Cup teammates is younger brother Scott Patterson, who placed 74th in the men's 15-K classic Sunday. He has yet to crack the top 30 for World Cup points, although he came close in Oslo when he placed 32nd in the 50-K.