Erik Bjornsen of Winthrop, Wash., won the men’s 15-kilometer classic event at the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow on Saturday, while Becca Rorabaugh of Fairbanks, Alaska, won the women’s 10K title.
It was Bjornsen’s second straight U.S. title after last year’s 15k freestyle event, while it was Rorabaugh’s first title.
Bjornsen won in 39 minutes, 3.6 seconds, while Reese Hanneman (39:14.6) of Fairbanks placed second, and Kris Freeman (39:26.4) of Andover, N.H., placed third.
"I love skiing races here at Soldier Hollow," Bjornsen said, according to the U.S. Ski Team website. "I’ve been racing here since I was quite young, trying to qualify for Junior Olympics. I had good memories from the 15k last year at U.S. Championships and I tried to go out feeling a little confident, but also I was trying to ski smooth and strong and not be too confident. I knew there were a lot of fast guys. I didn’t actually expect to win but I’m really happy that it worked out that way.
Niklas Persson (40:13.3) of the University of Utah placed 11th, and fellow Utah skier Oscar Ivers (40:26.4) was 13th.
Rorabaugh won the women’s race in 29:09.9, followed by Caitlin Gregg (29:24.1) of Minneapolis, and Caitlin Patterson (29:49.7) of Anchorage, Alaska.
"I was having trouble believing splits halfway through that I was in second," Rorabaugh said. "I felt really strong, but mostly I felt like I was racing really hard at altitude, trying to hold it together so I’m pretty amazed. It was an awesome day."
Sloan Storrey (31:36.7) of the University of Utah finished 13th, and fellow Ute Anna-Lena Heynen (31:56.3) finished 18th.
Sprint races will be held on Sunday, with qualifiers beginning at 10:15 a.m. and heats at 12:30 p.m.
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