4 Americans in top 30 of 30K classic, and none seemed happier than APU’s Rosie Frankowski

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: February 25, 2018
  • Published February 25, 2018

Alaska pacific University skiers Rosie Frankowski, left, and Sadie Bjornsen at the finish line of the women’s 30K classic Sunday at the Winter Olympics. (Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)

Sadie Bjornsen deemed it a suffer-fest. Jessie Diggins said it was tough. Caitlin Patterson called it long and frustrating.

As for Alaska Pacific University's Rosie Frankowski, who made her Olympic debut in Sunday's 30-kilometer classic race? "Incredible," she said.

All four American women finished in the top 26 in the final cross-country race of the Pyeongchang Olympics, with Diggins leading the way in seventh place.

None seemed happier at the end than 21st-place Frankowski, who until Sunday had never skied in a World Cup race, much less the Olympics.

A member of APU's nordic ski program, Frankowski, 26, was a surprise selection to the U.S. Olympic team but proved her worth when called on to race the grueling 30K.

"It was crazy. I didn't expect, honestly, to feel that good and just keep jamming and going," a happy Frankowski told "I told (coach Erik) Flora that I was going to start easy, and he just nodded, because I say that every race and I never start easy."

Frankowski improved her position over the course of the race. She was 27th after six kilometers but passed six people after that, including three in the final five kilometers.

"My one goal for the whole day was just to finish smiling," she said. "I honestly can't tell you, when I came down that downhill on the last lap, it was so cool. … (W)hen you're hyped to have done a 30K, and to know like you just raced in the Olympics and no matter what your result is, that's just incredible. I can't describe that feeling."

Caitlin Patterson of Anchorage skis to a top-30 finish in the 30K. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Marit Bjoergen collected her record 15th Olympic medal by winning the race in decisive fashion in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 17.6 seconds. Frankowski was nearly nine minutes back in 1:31:11.4.

Diggins crashed on the first lap and wasn't able to regain contact with the lead pack but stuck with the chase pack to finish in 1:25:54.8.

Her seventh-place showing established a new U.S. Olympic standard for the 30K classic. The previous best was Anchorage skier Nina Kemppel's 14th-place finish at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, where Kemppel crossed the finish line in 16th place but ascended to 14th after two Russians were disqualified for doping — first-place Larissa Lazutina and eighth-place Olga Danilova.

Diggins, who won a gold medal with Anchorage's Kikkan Randall in the team sprint, skied all six races in Pyeongchang. She was seventh or better in all of them.

"It was a tough race for sure," Diggins told reporters. "Any time you do 30K it is really hard and it takes a lot of guts. For me, it was my worst race of the games, but I was seventh in the world today and I am really proud of that."

Anchorage’s Sadie Bjornsen on her way to 17th place in the 30K classic. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Bjornsen of Anchorage, a teammate of Frankowski's at APU, placed 17th in 1:28:50.2.

"It was really fun the last 15K," she said. "Nothing felt really good out there but it was really fun to dig deep. It was a fun 30K suffer-fest."

Finishing 26th was Patterson, a South High graduate who trains in Vermont. She clocked 1:32:43.6 and spent most of the race in the 24th, 25th or 26th position.

"30K is such a long race," she told "I felt like I was working really hard, especially in the middle and second half. I was a little frustrated that all that hard work wasn't really catching anybody. But overall it was good. It's still really cool to race here."