February 09, 2017 – Team USA skiers and sibs, Caitlin and Scott Patterson from Anchorage, Alaska, showed their fine form at the PyeongChang World Cup in South Korea this past weekend. The duo had strong performances in the women’s and men’s Team Sprints – career-first for both – and the Patterson’s were up to the challenge showing their prowess in the discipline at the 2018 Olympic test event.
Caitlin, who races on the Green Racing Project team at home, and teammate Liz Stephen raced to a hard fought fourth place, missing out on the podium by 0.35 of a second against their fellow USA I team of Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent who won the bronze. Caitlin was also a stellar 4th in the women’s 15km Skiathlon for her best ever World Cup result behind Stephen who landed on the podium in second. Meanwhile Scott, who races for APU at home, and teammate Matt Gelso ripped it up as well skiing a solid semifinal to make it into the final round. They concluded their Team Sprint debut with a solid ninth.
SkiTrax spoke to both Caitlin and Scott about the PyeongChang World Cup, and this is what they had to say:
Fab day for USA in Korea – wow you and Liz had a barn-burner race against US-1 no less.
CP: Yes, that was a pretty incredible day to cap off a fantastic weekend of racing!
Sorry it’s taken me quite a while to get back to you – it was a very quick turnaround after the team sprint to a long travel day returning to the US.
First tell us about winning your Semi…
CP: Throughout both rounds, Liz and I knew that it was to our advantage as predominantly distance racers to tire people out by pushing the pace. So in the semi, after a chill first lap, it happened that Liz tagged off to me in the lead of the pack, and I just ran with it. I pushed the pace from the front in order to string out people behind, and each leg after that we built our lead a little with both of us skiing from the front. Since only top 2 teams advanced automatically to the final, we wanted to ensure that we’d be in it, so we won the semi. At the time, I knew that I needed to push the pace and went for it, but looking back, it’s kind of incredible that I was able to personally do that in a World Cup team sprint! Of course if I could have been even stronger, we might have dropped more teams, but overall I’m really proud of how both Liz and I skied. We put everything out there.
Were you nervous as we believe this your first World Cup Team Sprint ?
CP: This was definitely my first World Cup team sprint. In fact I think I’ve only ever done 3 team sprints on skis, and the most recent of those was in 2012 at Canadian Nationals. It was quite the experience top partner with Liz in Pyeongchang, especially to cap off a tough 3 days of racing. It was really fun, and makes me wish there were more opportunities to team sprint on the racing calendar!
Both US teams were in the running – that had to feel good.
CP: It was great fun to have two US teams in the final, pushing each other and the rest of the teams. It’s such a hectic event that I didn’t feel like we were actually able to work together, but I still did enjoy the few moments of skiing with Sophie during my legs.
How tiring is the course – looks tough and “hilly” ?
CP: The course was in nice shape, there was a bit of fresh snow on top of the grooming when we arrived, but after some skiing the trails glazed and sped up a bit. It’s quite a challenging sprint course, particularly that second large uphill. Especially after a few laps, it was difficult to get my legs working very well to crest the hill at high speed. And then the challenge continues, because while the downhill into the stadium is very skiable in training, it’s not so easy on lactate-flooded legs. In the classic sprint I fell during my quarterfinal on the downhill, but luckily I was able to stay on my feet for the other two races. I’ve seen quite a few of the World Cup sprint courses now, and I think this has to be one of the very hardest out there, especially when on the team sprint day we raced it 6 times each!
Read more about Caitlin Patterson here.
Great skiing by you and Matt Gelso – making the final had to feel good.
SP: In the semi the pace felt somewhat relaxed but we were still moving. There were enough weaker teams and tired racers that by the third lap gaps had formed. We would have liked to get an automatic berth in 4th but 5th was good enough.
Would love some comments on the semi and your race in the final.
SP: In the finals we went out hot from the gun. Russia and Norway both pushed the pace. On my first leg I was caught a little further back than I liked and held up a bit by some of the other teams that were clearly tiring. From there we had lost the lead group but had a good battle with Germany and a few other teams. I would have like to be battling for first but I think gelso and I put out a pretty good show.
Tell us about the venue – the course – conditions.
SP: Over the 3 races we saw warming temperatures. By the team sprint it was somewhat glazed underneath with new snow falling. This was quite a contrast to the first few days of testing with cold manmade. Overall the courses are quite good. The sprint course is very challenging and the skate has some good hills and nice flow. The classic is a little dull and could potentially be doubled poled so it could use a little work in my opinion.
Was this your first WCup Team Sprint ? Were you nervous ?
SP: This was my first World Cup team sprint and first team sprint race since 2012 so I didn’t really know what to expect. I wouldn’t say I was nervous. Just a little lost. However once things got going I settled in quickly. We do lots of team sprint workouts on eagle glacier in the summer to make intervals a little more fun. This just upped the seriousness a bit.
Are you feeling more “at home” on WCup ?
SP: I am feeling a bit more at home on the World Cup. Obviously this one wasn’t quite the usual European crowd but it was a good confidence builder.
How inspiring is it to see Caitlin doing so well ?
SP: Of course it is awesome to see Caitlin doing well. We both were a bit dissapointed with nationals for various reasons and it is sweet to both be racing fast again.
Read more about Scott Patterson here.