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USA’s Erik Bjornsen Strong 18th in Men’s 15km CL Individual Start as Finland’s Niskanen Triumphs #Lahti2017 + Bjornsen Interview

by Noah Brautigam

March 01, 2017 (Lahti, Finland) – Erik Bjornsen finished strong in 18th in the men’s 15km classic race interval start at FIS Nordic World Championships in Lahti, posting the best World Cup distance result of the US XC ski men’s team this season. Bjornsen was also the top North American matching his sister’s performance in yesterday’s women’s 10km classic race – Sadie was 23rd – but managed to move the needle even higher claiming a top-20 finish.

Men's 15km Cl podium (l-r) Sundby 2nd, Niskanen 1st, Dyrhaug 3rd [P]
The win today went to Finnish hometown favourite Livo Niskanen, who specializes in classic events. The partisan crowd was stoked to see him prov his strength today with a gold medal performance by a decisive 17.9-second margin over race favourite Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway. Fellow Norge skier, Niklas Dyrhaug, took the bronze medal, finishing 31.3 seconds behind Niskanen.

Erik Bjornsen (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Bjornsen has been a standout for the US men’s team at these championships, teaming up with Simi Hamilton to take 5th place in the men’s classic team sprint. Today’s top-20 solidifies his place at the top of the US distance skiing hierarchy.

“I’ve had this race on my radar for over a year now,” Bjornsen shared in an interview with Trax after the race. “15km classic has always been my favorite discipline.” For the past year, he has been targeting the classic team sprint and the 15km classic, and said that “it all came together here, and I was able to come up with my best result at world champs.”

He was also enthusiastic about the upward trend of US skiing, pointing to the stellar performances on the women’s side. As for the men, he’s optimistic about podiums at next year’s Olympic Games, “we’re excited to be battling with the best.”

Erik Bjornsen Interview by Ahvo Taipele/

Devon Kershaw [P] Nordic Focus
Bjornsen’s teammate Kyle Bratrud had a solid day, finishing 33rd at 3:11.5 back. Canadian Devon Kershaw was right on his heels as the top Canadian finishing in 35th at 14 seconds behind Bratrud.

American Andy Newell – known as a sprint specialist – finished 50th (+4:21.7), followed by teammate Benjamin Lustgarten in 55th (+4:56.9).

Knute Johnsgaard (l) and Jesse Cockney [P] CCC
Canadian Knute Johnsgaard was close behind Lustgarten in 56th (+5:00.7), and Jesse Cockney was 65th (+6:20.7) out of 83 finishers. Tomorrow the relays begin for more excitement at the Worlds.

Full results here.

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