Spring-Like Conditions At Winter Olympics, But Northwest XC Skiers Still Having 'Fun'

By Tom Banse

It's so warm in the mountains above Sochi that the U.S. Olympic cross country skiers are going sleeveless, hatless and gloveless. The temperature during Thursday's Winter Olympics racing rose above 50 degrees. Two skiers with Northwest roots finished in the middle of the pack amid the slushy conditions.

Methow Valley, Washington's Sadie Bjornsen led the U.S. team with an 18th place finish in the women's ten-k classic cross country ski race. Teammate Holly Brooks, who was born and raised in Seattle, came in 35th. Once again, Scandinavians dominated the top ten. Erik Flora is Bjornsen and Brooks' coach. He insists the competitiveness of American cross country skiing is on the rise.

Erik Flora: "I think the U.S. skiers are coming in here with every opportunity to stand on the medal podium and ski head-to-head with the Scandinavians. We're still kind of building up teams that have the depth of the Scandinavians."

Flora still gives the Americans a decent chance to end a medal drought in Olympic cross country skiing that dates back to 1976. The best shot could be this Saturday's women's relay race, in which north-central Washington's Bjornsen will ski a segment.


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