By Mike Maltais
The Methow Valley’s core of world-class cross country skiers is already making headlines with the season barely underway in North American and European circles.
Newlyweds Brian and Caitlin Gregg and the brother/sister team of Erik and Sadie Bjornsen are tearing up the XC courses in pursuit of spots on the 2014 Olympic XC team that will compete in Sochi, Russia.
At the season opener in West Yellowstone, Mont., on Nov. 29-Dec. 1 the Greggs finished at or near the top of the sprint and distance races.
“Catlin won both the sprints and distance women’s race,” reported her father-in-law, Jim Gregg, “And Brian was second in the men’s distance and the first North American.”
So far this season Brian Gregg has placed second in the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club NorAm and posted a fifth place in the 15-kilometer classic at the Bohart Ranch Super Tour Sunday (Dec. 8). Caitlin finished second in the 10K at the Bohart.
“Caitlin and I are both leading the Super Tour at this point,” Gregg posted on the pair’s website.
Halfway around the world, Sadie Bjornsen gutted out her best 5K finish ever, seventh place, in the Kussamo, Finland World Cup on Nov. 29-30. Bjornsen added a 17th-place finish in the 10K pursuit.
At her next stop at the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, Bjornsen finished seventh in the 10K classic and helped the U.S. team place third in the relay.
At West Yellowstone, Erik Bjornsen kicked off his season with results that did not meet up to the high expectations he has set for himself this season.
Winthrop’s Sam Naney was the third sprint qualifier and finished sixth in the final at the West Yellowstone opener.
The Super Tour competitors are now headed for their next stop at the Haywood NorAm in Rossland, B.C., Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 14-15).