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USA’s Bjornsen Claims 10th Overall as Kalla Wins Ruka Mini Tour Season Opener


November 26, 2017 (Ruka, Finland) – The USA’s Sadie Bjornsen raced to 10th in the women’s 10 km FR Pursuit, as Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla claimed the win on the final stage to take the overall victory at the Ruka mini tour besting rival Marit Bjoergen of Norway on the final lap.

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) [P] Nordic Focus
Bjoergen and Kalla shared the lead back and forth throughout the race until the start of the final lap of 2.5 km when Kalla raised the pace and never looked back. In third place was Norwegian Ragnhild Haga who recorded the fastest time of the day moving from 10th place to the podium on the final day.

Women's final podium [P] Nordic Focus
Jessie Diggins finished just behind Bjornsen in 12th with Kikkan Randall moving up 24 spots from 49th to 25th overall. Rosie Brennan also had a solid day finishing in the points at 28th overall.

“Today was another fun, and tough day of racing here to complete the tour. It was nice to have skate skis under my feet after two really challenging classic days! Ruka is what I consider one of the toughest race courses on the circuit. It is just wall after wall (steep climb after steep climb), and you never seem to get a break,” said Bjornsen.

“Today, it was my goal to catch the group in front of me, and then just hang on for dear life. I woke up feeling good, and recovered after the past two days, so I was feeling excited to see what I can do in skate skiing. I feel like I dug deeper than I have in a long time, and was really satisfied when I finally got to the finish line. I now look forward to a few days of rest before another great weekend of racing in Lillehammer,” she added.

Jessie Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus
Diggins was satisfied with her effort as well. “I always work into the season and was carrying a pretty high load of training into the last week, so overall I’m really happy with how the season opener went. It was nice to finally race again and get my racing feet under me – and remember how all the testing and warming up works,” said Diggins.

Today was a good race for me – not amazing, but a good start to the season. Krista Parmakoski (Fin) was energized in our group and I love working with her when we race because she gets that when your skis are moving well and you trade leads on the course, everyone has a faster time. In the stadium heading into lap four during a lull I made a move and left it all out there reeling in a few more girls. I learned a few things heading into next weekend and I’m happy with where my shape is at this time of the year,” shared Diggins.

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic Focus
Randall rebounded big time with the 8th fastest time of the day. “Today was a much better gauge of where my fitness actually is.  After two frustrating classic days where the wax was a big factor, it was nice to just be able to go today and use what I have.

“I love pursuit start races because it’s a great chance to go catch some people. I wanted to go hard off the start and try to move up as many places as possible. I felt pretty smooth on the 1st lap and decided to up the pace on the 2nd lap.  I had good speed the whole race and was able to bridge through several groups.

Brennan also landed in the points which augurs well. “It always helps to have some strong results in the beginning. It gives me confidence in my fitness and some of the skills have been working on over the summer. I skied with a group of four for more or less the whole race. It was a great group to ski in and I think we did a pretty good job of skiing strong. I am satisfied with the weekend. Kuusamo is always a tricky place for me so I am happy to come away with some strong results,” Brennan commented.

Ida Sargent (USA) finished 38th while teammate Sophie Caldwell was 39th followed by Liz Stephen in 56th and Chelsea Holmes in 60th. Emily Nishikawa was the top Canadian finishing 69th, Cendrine Browne (Can) was 72nd, Julia Kern (USA) was 73rd, while Dahria Beatty was lapped, putting her in 79th.

Results here.
Final Standings here.

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