March 02, 2017 (Lahti, Finland) – The Norwegian women were golden once again today in Lahti taking a decisive victory in the women’s 4x5km relay marking the nation’s 100th gold medal at a Championship (including the Olympics). Sweden claimed the silver as Finland settled for the bronze in hard-fought battle.
Team USA came into today’s relay with high expectations after recent medal performances in this event but could not close the gap on the leaders settling for a solid 4th. The Canadian squad delivered a strong result finishing 10th for their second best women’s relay result.
As the race unfolded Maiken Caspersen Falla scrambled to a 7-second lead over Sweden, Finland and Poland’s Justyna Kowalcyzk on the opening leg. The USA’s Kikkan Randall sat mid-field amidst the aggressive early pace, handing off to Sadie Bjornsen in 5th at 24.5 seconds behind the leaders. Katherine Stewart-Jones scrambled well for Canada tagging Emily Nishikawa in 8th.
Bjornsen moved the USA up into 4th but the gap to the leaders was now 36.2 seconds as she handed off to Liz Stephen. For Nishikawa skied the second classical leg for Canada dropping one spot to 9th with Cendrine Browne taking over.
Stephen continued the charge, maintaining 4th place overall, but handing off to Jessie Diggins 1:19.8 behind Norway, and 20 seconds behind Finland and Sweden.
“Today I was out to hunt down people, but was just not able to ski the way I needed to in order to do so. I am really happy with this team’s guts, fight to the death mindset,” she added. Browne tagged Canadian anchor Dahria Beatty in 10th.
“We didn’t come here to finish fourth, we came here to win,” said Diggins. “But we worked so hard and I’m really proud of my team today.” It was the third straight world championships in which the USA was fourth.
“I am really proud of my team, Katherine, Emily and Cendrine all skied amazingly. Cendrine handed off to me in 10th place just a bit behind the Italians. I tried really hard to close that gap on the first lap but wasn’t able to in the soft conditions. So I skied my leg alone to bring us home in 10th, which is our best World Championships result since 2001,” she concluded.
Racing continues this week in Lahti, with the men’s 4x10km relay tomorrow, followed by the women’s 30km freestyle on Saturday, and the men’s 50km freestyle Sunday.