Author of Story: Elizabeth Karam from ussa.org
Central Cross Country Skiing’s Jessica Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S. in the women’s 5k free technique race in seventh as the 2011 FIS Junior World Nordic Championships opened in Otepaa, Estonia.
Sitting just east of the Baltic Sea, the air was brisk and the snow temperature was cold in Otepaa as the fields hit the fresh snow covered track. Norway opened the Championships strong, claiming four out of six podium spots – sweeping the women’s and landing the top step in the men’s race. Sindre Bjoernestad Skar clinched gold for the men and Ragnhild Haga for the women.
Diggins led the U.S. march in seventh – her first top 10 in three Junior World attempts. Haga posted the top time of 13:50.6, with teammates Kari Oeyre Slind and Heidi Weng close behind with silver and bronze.
“She is certainly due,” said Junior Worlds Head Cross Country Coach Matt Whitcomb. “While I’m completely thrilled with the result – I’m not surprised. This is where she belongs and she proved that today.”
In the men’s race, Skar led the surge with Germany’s Markus Weeger and Finland’s Perttu Hyvarinen taking the silver and bronze. The USA’s Scott Patterson (Anchorage) of Alaska Winter Stars placed 28th – but was not satisfied with his result.
“This was by all means a very strong result. But Scott felt flat and that it didn’t go well for him today,” said Whitcomb of Patterson’s performance. “For him to feel that way and still be in the top 30 is a really positive sign. He’s looking forward to an easy day tomorrow and ramping things back up for the pursuit in a couple of days.”
The Junior Worlds field will ski onto the track again Thursday for the men’s and women’s classic sprint.
“In every race this week we have a very strong squad,” said Whitcomb. “It’s hard to predict results but it’s easy to predict successful days.”
FIS Junior World Nordic Championships
Otepaa, Estonia – Jan. 26, 2011
Cross Country 10/5k Free
Gold: Sindre Bjoernestad Skar, Norway, 24:05.2
Silver: Markus Weeger, Germany, 24:21.2
Bronze: Perttu Hyvarinen, Finland, 24:22.7
28. Scott Patterson, Anchorage (Alaska Winter Stars) 25:49.1
46. Andrew Dougherty, Denver (Denver University) 26:12.0
57. Erik Bjornsen, Mazama, WA (University of Alaska Anchorage) 26:32.4
76. George Cartwright, Lander, WY (Northern Michigan University) 27:13.5
Gold: Ragnhild Haga, Norway, 13:50.6
Silver: Kari Oeyre Slind, Norway, 13:56.2
Bronze: Heidi Weng, Norway, 13.58.6
7. Jessica Diggins, Afton, MN (Central Cross Country Skiing) 14:18.2
36. Joanne Reid, Palo Alto, CA (University of Colorado) 15:07.4
68. Kinsey Loan, Eagle River, AK (Alaska Pacific University) 16:00.3
70. Isabel Caldwell, Peru, VT (Dartmouth Ski Team) 16:06.0
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com – photo: fiscrosscountry.com