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Alaskans on US Women’s Nordic World Championship relay just miss the podium, Maubet Bjornsen announces retirement plans post-race

Sadie Maubet Bjornsen of the United States competes on the finish line during the 10km women's...
Sadie Maubet Bjornsen of the United States competes on the finish line during the 10km women's interval start free race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)(Matthias Schrader | AP)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 4:20 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An eighth of a second is all that separated the U.S. women’s relay team from finishing third at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany on Thursday.

The U.S. team was made up of Alaska Pacific University skiers Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan, Hailey Swirbul and Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins.

“This is a team of gritty girls and a team that likes to lay it all out there,” Brennan emailed after the race. “We skied that way today and tried our best to play our cards right. It is certainly bittersweet to be so close to that podium and not get there, but when everyone skis with that much grit, there isn’t much else you can do.”

The American team kicked off the 4x5-kilometer relay trailing the top three teams by fourteen seconds after Swirbul’s first leg. Bjornsen got the U.S. into third place after the second leg.

Brennan and Diggins would go back and forth with Finland during the finals legs, but fell short of the podium by less than a second. This is the fourth time the American women have finished fourth in a world championship relay.

The heartbreaking loss had a silver lining for some skiers like Bjornsesn, who had briefly thought about retirement before this winter, but felt Thursday’s race was a reminder of why she returned to the sport this winter.

“There was one last goal I wanted to accomplish not just for myself, but for the team that taught me what it meant to dream bigger than big,” Bjornsen wrote on Facebook. “This goal was an Olympic/ World Championship 4x5 podium. I knew in my heart we were forming into the strongest relay.”

The veteran cross-country ski racer also shared in the same post that she will retire from ski racing after the 30-kilometer on Saturday at the world championships.

“Although it both excites and in many ways pains my heart, Saturdays 30k will be my last race as a professional racer. There is no better glory lap than 30 full kilometers of suffering to go out on, as I have many years to recover from the effort,” Bjornsen wrote.

Last summer I danced between hanging up my skis, or continuing on. There was one last goal I wanted to accomplish not...

Posted by Sadie Maubet Bjornsen on Thursday, March 4, 2021

The U.S. men compete in the 4x5-kilometer relay at the world championships on Friday.

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