Skiing in front of a crowd of 15,000, Anchorage skiers Sadie Bjornsen and Rosie Brennan helped the U.S. women’s relay team to a fifth-place finish Thursday at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria.
The team, which also included Jessie Diggins of Minnesota and Julia Kern of Massachusetts, finished 63 seconds off the podium on a warm, sunny day.
The Americans were 11th among 17 teams after Kern’s classic-technique scramble leg, but Bjornsen, also skiing a classic leg, lifted them to sixth place. Brennan’s fast freestyle kept them there and Diggins passed Finland on the final freestyle leg to put her team in fifth place in the 4x5-kilometer race.
Brennan, who last week claimed 10th place in the skiathlon at the World Championships, skied one of the day’s fastest freestyle legs. Her time of 13 minutes, 46 seconds was the fifth fastest and her 2.5K split was the third fastest.
“I have never done a skate leg of the relay so I was very excited to try something new,” Brennan said by email. “I am really happy with my leg. I so badly wanted to catch Finland and wasn't able to, but I was at least able to close the gap enough that Jessie was able to pass them with ease “
Sweden took the gold by edging Norway by 3.1 seconds, with Russia trailing by 2:03.
The Americans, who in their history have made the podium four times in a relay race, the last time in 2016, were 3:06 off the winning pace.
“Every one of us truly gave it all we had today and that is all you can ask,” Brennan said. “One day the stars will align and we will be on that podium.”
Three Alaskans are expected to ski on the U.S. team in the men’s relay race Friday at the World Championships — Erik Bjornsen, Scott Patterson and David Norris.