Four Nordic skiers with ties to the Methow Valley competed in the final World Cup races of the season in Oslo, Norway, last weekend. Methow Valley native Brian Gregg finished the men’s 50-kilometer course in 35th place, the top American finisher on Oslo’s Holmenkollen venue. Eric Bjornsen, another valley native, started but did not finish the grueling course.
Caitlin Gregg, Brian’s wife, was 19th overall in the women’s 30K race, one of three Americans to place in the top 20. Sadie Bjornsen, Eric’s sister, placed 44th in the women’s competition.
According to the website fastskier.com, Brian Gregg “got off to a slow start in the 50K, ranking just 53rd after 11.3 kilometers. But using a steady pace, he climbed through the field and finished 35th.”
“That’s a pretty good result for me. I was a little bit short of my goal, which was a top 30. I was actually exactly one minute out of the top 30. But I felt really good as far as my pacing and being able to be pretty strong in that last 10 kilometers,” Brian Gregg told fastskier.com.
“I’m feeling pretty tired from a long season,” Eric Bjornsen wrote in an email to fastskier.com. “I went into today thinking I could be competitive but as soon as the gun went off it was obvious my body was fighting my mind. I tried a couple times to throw in some speeds throughout the race to try to get the legs to wake up but they were straight dead. I still have some races left in the season so there was no reason to bury myself quite yet.”
The women’s 30K race “marked the strongest distance result in history by the U.S. women’s team,” according to the ussa.org website. Liz Stephen finished ninth and Jessie Diggins finished 14th. Head coach Chris Grover said that “Caitlin [Gregg] proved once again that she is in great skating shape.”