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Off and Skiing
Local elites start season

photoCaitlin Gregg on her way to winning the 1.3k freestyle SuperTour skate sprint at West Yellowstone, Montana, on Friday (Nov. 29).

The headlines posted on signaled the news: “…Gregg Cruises to Women’s SuperTour Sprint Victory…,” “Good Day to Be a Gregg: Couple Go 1-2 in West Yellowstone Distance Race,” “Bjornsen Suprises in Seventh as American Women Prep for a Strong Sunday…”

Elite Nordic skiers with Methow Valley ties were up against the best skiers in North America and the world this past weekend in the opening round of races that had points and money attached, plus a shot at going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.

The SuperTour

Caitlin Gregg was the fastest woman qualifier for Friday’s 1.3k freestyle sprint – the first SuperTour race of the season, held in West Yellowstone, Mont. She went on to win every heat. The next day she won the women’s 10k freestyle by more than one minute and 20 seconds, making her the women’s SuperTour leader.

According to, if Gregg leads the SuperTour circuit after this coming weekend’s races in Bozeman, Mont., she will earn a World Cup start in Europe in January. That would take the 2010 Olympian one step closer to being selected for the 2014 Olympic team.

“Both Brian and I are very excited with our start to the year,” Caitlin said in an email to Grist.

Brian Gregg started his season by taking second place in the men’s SuperTour 15k freestyle race on Saturday.

photoTeam Gregg was a Methow Valley family affair at the opening SuperTour races in West Yellowstone last weekend. This photograph is from Saturday. From left, parents Jim and Jan Gregg, winning skiers Brian and Caitlin Gregg, and Brian’s brother Chad and his wife Alieta Gregg.

“Scott Johnston [of Mazama’s Methow Olympic Development] and I worked a lot on pacing this summer and that really paid off today,” he told Grist after the race. “I started conservatively and tried to pick it up throughout the race, which is important at altitude.”

The races in West Yellowstone were at 7,000 ft. elevation.

The Greggs are racing as Team Gregg this season with sponsorship from Madshus. “The Team Gregg family was out in force,” Brian said, “cheering…hauling gear and making things happen.”

Brian added: “We couldn’t ski successfully without such great support. Caitlin and I are so fortunate to be on the road racing together and really work as a team.”

Brian will compete in the 15k skate race Dec. 7 at Silver Star, B.C. That race is part of the North American Cup roster.

Sam Naney qualified in third place and took fifth overall in the SuperTour men’s sprint event. He was not at all happy with the next day’s 60th place result in the 15k. “Gotta have the bad ones to appreciate the good ones, though,” is the way it was stated on the Methow Olympic Development team blog.

Erik Bjornsen was disappointed with both of his SuperTour race results. He qualified in 16th place for the sprints but did not make it past the quarterfinals. He finished the 15k in 11th place.

“It wasn’t exactly the way I was hoping to start things,” he told Grist. “I’m trying to stay positive, though. I have had the best off-season training of my life. There is a lot of racing left in the year…and I will be fighting hard for the podium the next couple weekends.“

Bjornsen will ski the SuperTour race in Bozeman this weekend and a North American Cup race in Rossland, B.C. the following week.

photoSadie Bjornsen on her way to seventh place in the World Cup opening 5k classic race Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland. Fischer/Nordic Focus photo

The World Cup

Sadie Bjornsen earned her first top 10 in a distance race on the World Cup circuit Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland, by taking 7th place in the women’s 5k classic event. On Friday she qualified in third place for the women’s classic sprint before finishing in 26th place.

But she was among the American women on the U.S. Ski Team who proved they are to be reckoned with this year.

“It’s been a fun start for sure,” Sadie told Grist. She will race in Lillehammer, Norway, this weekend. “I have never raced in Lillehammer, but I am really looking forward to it, as we will be racing on the Olympic courses.” She added that her family has had a painting of the Olympics in Lillehammer by Sean McCabe “hanging in our house since I was really young … so I look forward to seeing what it truly looks like!”


Casey Smith, who moved up to the men’s senior biathlon division this year, has two weekends of North American Cup competition in Alberta, Canada, behind him. “The best people in North American were here racing,” he told Grist. “I did fairly well placing first and second the first weekend and third and second this weekend,” he said.

Smith, a native of Winthrop, said he is living in Fort Kent, Maine, and training with the Maine Winter Sports Center. His next stop is Grand Rapids, Mich., for Dec. 14-18 Olympic trial races.


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