Two of Alaska's Olympic-bound athletes put down solid results in World Cup competition Saturday, showing they're headed in the right direction as the Pyeongchang Games approach.
In Seefeld, Austria, Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen registered the best freestyle sprint result of her World Cup career by placing sixth in Seefeld, Austria.
In Bansko, Bulgaria, Anchorage's Rosie Mancari enjoyed her best European result of the World Cup season by finishing eighth in a snowboardcross race.
"I have never made it into a skate sprint final, so I had a little celebration for myself," Bjornsen said by email. "I definitely feel good about where my form is going, and hoping to have just a hair more rest before the big show, starting here pretty soon."
Bjornsen and Mancari are among a record 14 Alaskans who will compete at the Winter Olympics, a group that includes 11 cross-county skiers. A dozen of the Alaskans are on the U.S. team and two — nordic skier Jessica Yeaton and figure skater Keegan Messing — are competing for Australia and Canada, respectively.
Vermont's Sophie Caldwell tied for first place in the sprint race in Seefeld, where she and Bjornsen grabbed two of the six spots in the finals. Kikkan Randall of Anchorage was the third American, placing 14th.
In the men's race, Colorado's Simi Hamilton placed ninth and was the only American among the 30 skiers who advanced to the heats. Anchorage's Erik Bjornsen and Logan Hanneman finished 37th and 39 in qualifying, respectively, and were the top Americans after Hamilton.
In Bulgaria, Mancari placed third in her quarterfinal and was the last-place finisher in her six-woman semifinal. She bounced back in a big way to claim second place in the small final, which vaulted her to eighth place overall.
Mancari was one of three Americans in the top 10 — Lindsey Jacobellis of Vermont was sixth and Faye Guilini of Salt Lake City was ninth.
Mancari's previous best this season was an 11th-place finish in Argentina in September. Since the World Cup tour moved to Europe in November, her best finish was 14th at a December race in Cervinia, Italy.