The U.S. Ski Team announced its starters for the women’s 30 k classic mass start, to be held on Saturday in Falun, Sweden, and the men’s 50 k mass start scheduled for Sunday.
In the 30 k, the Americans will start Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan, Liz Stephen, and Jessie Diggins – the same lineup they used in Thursday’s 4 x 5 k relay, which placed fourth.
“Right now, Sophie [Caldwell] and Ida [Sargent] are a little more focused on sprint, Caitlin [Gregg] is quite a bit stronger in skate than she is in classic, and Kikkan [Randall] came down with a cold the other day after the race,” U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover said after Friday’s men’s relay. “So they’re gone. Then we have these four who are feeling good, in good shape, that’s why they were in the relay – so they are the four we could really count on to be in the best fitness for the 30 k.”
Diggins was not initially planning to compete in the 30 k, telling FasterSkier after the relay that she would save her energy for the rest of the World Cup season and instead cheer so loudly she wouldn’t be able to talk afterwards.
“I wasn’t planning to race, but a spot opened up and I have been feeling really good, so I thought ‘why not?!?'” Diggins wrote in an email on Friday evening. “It will be so fun to be out racing especially with all the fans here on a weekend, and although classic isn’t my preferred mode of travel I know that it’ll still be a great experience! The only downside to racing 30 k is it might make me tired going into Lahti, where there are some potentially good races for me, so I made the plan with my coaches that if by 15 k I’m not having a good race, I’ll drop and save my energy for the sprints coming up later.”
In the men’s 50 k, Noah Hoffman, Matt Gelso, Erik Bjornsen, and Kris Freeman will toe the line.
Grover explained that the sprinters wouldn’t compete, “that’s for sure”, and that Northern Michigan University skier Kyle Bratrud is flying back to the United States to prepare for NCAA Championships.