Methow natives are among top U.S. performers
By Don Nelson
Siblings Sadie and Erik Bjornsen, both Methow Valley natives, are working their way through Europe on the World Cup cross country skiing tour, pointing toward the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 9-25.
Both Bjornsens were members of the U.S. Olympics cross country skiing team in 2014. Growing up in the Methow Valley, their Nordic skiing coaches were Leslie Hall and Laura McCabe — both Olympians themselves.
Sadie, 28, a World Cup bronze medalist, has found herself on the podium at several venues in November and December. Erik, 26, has had several top finishes for the U.S. men’s team.
Most recently, at Toblach in Italy, Sadie finished 10th in the 10-kilometer skate final, 4 seconds behind Jessica Diggins, another American skier in 8th place. In the 10K classic pursuit, Sadie finished 9th, less than 2 seconds behind Diggins in 7th.
In the men’s 15K skate final, Erik was the top American finisher in 29th place. In the men’s 15K pursuit, he was again the top U.S. finisher, this time in 26th place.
“It was an exciting start to the World Cup Weekend here in Toblach,” Sadie said of day one in Italy. “This is a special venue for me, as I have had some of my best races here, and I had my very first career individual podium here last winter.”
“There is a new course here in Toblach, which added some tough climbing into the course, and a whole new challenge,” she continued. “I went out hard, as I have been trying to do these past few weeks, and tried to hang on as long as I could. I am excited to have finished in 9th, my career best 10K skate result.”
Sadie said the classic pursuit was “a fun day of skiing, with a little different feeling than normal. It was kind of hard to feel strong and in control on that course, but I gave it my all, and was again happy with the finish.” She said she was looking forward to a break over the holidays, when she will spend time in France.
Earlier, in Davos, Switzerland, Sadie was the top American in 12th place in the 10K final.
In early December, Sadie claimed a podium spot with a 3rd-place finish in the sprint classic at Lillehammer, Norway. The next day she took 10th in the 15K skiathlon. In the men’s 15K skiathlon, Erik was the first American finisher in 20th place.
Sadie’s highest finish of the tour came on Nov. 24 when she took second place in the classic sprint in Ruka, Finland. She finished 10th in the 10K freestyle sprint. Erik finished 26th in the men’s overall standings, again the top American.
Sadie is a graduate of Alaska Pacific University and is pursuing an MBA degree there. Erik attended the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Kelsey Dickinson, a 2011 Liberty Bell High School graduate and world-class biathlete, is back at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minnesota, training to compete in her third consecutive NCAA cross country skiing finals at Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Dickinson had earlier traveled to Norway with the U.S. Biathlon Team that competed at the World Cup in Europe. She did not qualify to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympics team. Her mother, Janice Dickinson of Winthrop said that her daughter “will continue to race the college circuit this winter and then plans to become a full-time biathlete after graduation in May.”