Anchorage nordic ski racer Rosie Brennan finished third in Saturday’s 10K World Cup cross-country race in Lillehammer, Norway. She was the first U.S. skier with a podium finish in a World Cup distance race this season, and it was her second top-five finish in as many days.
Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher was the top U.S. finisher in the men’s 15K race, in 38th place.
Skiing on fresh snow on a new course from what was used in previous Lillehammer World Cup races and in the 1994 Olympics, Brennan said everything clicked.
“I love skiing in new snow so I was thrilled,” she wrote in an email. “This is a new course for us and it is a difficult course in the sense that there is no rest and terrain that requires constant work especially with the slightly slower conditions. I enjoy courses like this so it suited me well.”
An interval start and multiple laps on the 3.3K course, she said, meant heavier-than-usual traffic and it was a challenge to tell exactly how she was doing. She said she turned up the power in the third and final lap.
“... I knew it was tight so I really tried to let loose the last lap and trust my strength. I had great skis and was able to hold pace all the way to the finish while others faded giving me a podium. I am thrilled to find myself on the podium and feel really good about my fitness. It was great to have spectators out there today too! I forgot how fun it is to have fans!”
Sweden’s Frida Karlsson finished first, 0.03 seconds ahead of Norway’s Therese Johaug. Brennan finished 11.3 seconds behind Karlsson.
Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins, the reigning overall World Cup champion, was the next American finisher Saturday in 18th. Alaska skiers Hailey Swirbul was 32nd and Caitlin Patterson, who grew up in Anchorage but trains in Vermont, 53rd.
Diggins finished second in Friday’s sprint event, with Brennan fifth.
After Saturday’s race, Brennan was fourth in overall World Cup points, with Diggins fifth
In Saturday’s 15K men’s race, racers from Norway — Simen Hegstad Kruger, Hans Christer Holund and Martin Loewstroem Nyenget — swept the top three places. Schumacher was the top American. Other Alaska skiers included Zanden McMullen in 48th, Hunter Wonders in 63rd, David Norris in 64th and Scott Patterson was 70th.
The Winter Olympics are two months away.