MIDWAY, Utah — North Central Washington skiers continued to have a successful week at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow, as Winthrop’s Erik Bjornsen claimed his first national title in the men’s 15K freestyle individual start on Friday.
Bjornsen, 21, joins Leavenworth’s Torin Koos as local skiers to claim championships this week — Koos won his eighth national title in the classic sprint Wednesday. Bjornsen’s older sister, Sadie, has also fared well, taking second in both Wednesday’s classic sprint and Friday’s freestyle.
Erik Bjornsen bounced back after missing out on qualifying for the classic sprint finals.
“I’m still a little bit in shock. I can’t believe I just won nationals,” Bjornsen told usskiteam.com. “My race was unbelievable. I’ve never been top 10 in a distance race at nationals so to win it was pretty crazy. I went out hard and caught some fast dudes. … Coming down the last hill I was just thinking, ‘Don’t fall. Don’t lose it,’ because my legs we so filled with lactate. Then I just hammered into the finish.”
Bjornsen posted a time of 37 minutes, 2.7 seconds to knock off defending national champion Tad Elliott of Vail, Colo., by six seconds.
In the women’s race, Rosie Brennan of Park City, Utah, won in 29:12.3, 11 seconds ahead of Sadie Bjornsen.
“I’m happy with today. Skating has always been my weaker event so I’m definitely happy that I was able to do what I did today,” Sadie Bjornsen said.
The U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships continue through Tuesday.