Ski racer Scott Patterson of Anchorage finishes 18th in Olympic debut

It was no surprise that Norway took all of the medals in the first men's cross-country race at the Winter Olympics.

What might have been a surprise was the performance by Olympic rookie Scott Patterson of Anchorage — who in turn expressed surprise at the whole Olympic scene.

"You know, World Cup, Olympic, they are kind of similar, and then you get here and they're nothing at all the same," Patterson said in race report from the U.S. Ski Team.

Yet he didn't let the magnitude of the moment get to him.

Patterson, 26, turned in one of the best finishes of his career by grabbing 18th place in the 30-kilometer skiathlon Saturday night in Pyeonchang, South Korea.

"My first Olympic race was awesome," Patterson said in a race report from the U.S. Ski Team.

Patterson used a superb freestyle leg to move into the top 20. He was 26th after the classic leg, but he posted the 11th-fastest time in the skate leg to crack the top 20. The mixed-technique race included 15 kilometers of classic skiing followed by 15 kilometers of freestyle skiing.


"The first couple of laps the pack really spread out and then I relaxed," Patterson said. "We switched over to skate and (I) really felt like I knew what I was doing. Then just picked off a few people and put together a great race overall."

U.S. coach Chris Grover, a West High graduate, praised Patterson for his timing — in the big picture, and in the race itself.

"That was a perfect time for his best performance of the season," Grover said. "Scott and his group were tantalizingly close to the lead group for the entire race but came up just shy of reconnecting.

"Scott stayed patient early in the race, stayed out of trouble, and picked off skier after skier in front of him during the skate leg."

Patterson's total time of 1 hour, 7.5 seconds put him 67.5 seconds behind winner Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway, who also excelled in the second half of the race.

Krueger was 14th after the classic leg but put down the fastest freestyle leg to lead a Norwegian sweep of the medals. He clocked 1:16:20.0 to finish eight seconds ahead of silver medalist Martin Johnsrud Sundby and 9.9 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Hans Christer Holund.

Norway's best skier this season, Johannes Klaebo, was 43.4 seconds back in 10th place.

Norway has won more Winter Olympics medals than any other nation, and a good share of them have come in cross-country skiing, a sport they dominate.

Anchorage's Erik Bjornsen, who like Patterson trains with the Alaska Pacific University nordic ski team, finished 42nd. Patrick Caldwell of New Hampshire was 51st and Noah Hoffman of Colorado was 54th.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.