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Maubet Bjornsen Finishes Career With Top-15 World Championships Result

By Courtney Harkins
March, 6 2021
Sadie Maubet Bjornsen World Championships 30k
Sadie Bjornsen crosses the finish line in 15th place in her last professional race in her career. (Nordic Focus)

In her last race as a professional skier, the decorated Sadie Maubet Bjornsen came out as the top American in the 2021 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships 30k classic race, finishing in 15th place.

It was another warm day for the conclusion of the women’s races in Oberstdorf, Germany, with temperatures hanging in the upper 30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. But the weather didn’t hinder Therese Johaug of Norway, who won gold in a striking fashion, crossing the line more than two and a half minutes ahead of her teammate Heidi Weng. Frida Karlsson of Sweden took bronze.

Capping off an impressive decade-long career that included nearly 200 World Cup starts, two Olympics, six World Championships, 12 World Cup podiums and a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships, Maubet Bjornsen skied well, sticking with the lead pack for the first three laps, until a ski exchange halfway through the race didn’t work to her advantage. “I had many kilometers of celebrating!” she laughed. “It was the hardest 30k I’ve ever done. Nothing like going out on that to remind you how hard this sport is… But I feel really stoked about my first 15k and that’s a good memory to leave—feeling like one of the strongest girls climbing that monster hill.”

Maubet Bjornsen is retiring to spend time at home and pursue an accounting career after receiving her degree from Alaska Pacific University. Living on the road and out of a suitcase is hard, and the ski racer is looking forward to a life in Alaska with her husband Jo, but she would never trade the 10+ years on the World Cup circuit with her teammates. “I definitely feel really grateful for my whole career,” she said. “This last week was definitely really special—the relay was certainly the highlight of the week. It’s good to finish on a really hard note too, pushing through 30k. I’m thankful for my whole career.”

Hailey Swirbul finished 26th—her best individual finish in her first World Championships appearance. And she was thankful to have been able to race with her teammate and mentor one last time. “I’m happy with my day,” she said. “I had a pretty fast start and I got to ski with my teammate Sadie for a brief moment there in her last race as a professional, so that was really special. In the 30k, there are so many deaths and revivals, you just have to keep going. And I went through a couple of those and was very relieved to see the finish line. I’m proud of our team today, some good fighting.”

Hailey also reflected on Maubet Bjornsen’s retirement—the 22-year-old skier grew up idolizing athletes like her as she climbed the ranks in her career to make the Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team. “I grew up with them on a poster on my wall that’s still there today, wearing yellow puffy jackets from like 2011,” she said. “They inspired me then and they inspire me now. Wherever they go next in life is so lucky to have them, and I’m lucky that we got to have them for this part of their lives. They’re pretty amazing.”

Sophia Laukli, who also races for Middlebury College, was 28th—her third top-30 result in her first World Championships appearance. “I’d never done a 30k, so I wasn’t sure how to pace it, but I never blew up,” she said. “It was a lot of solo skiing, which was a bit tough, but I’m pretty happy with how it went. My body was definitely getting pretty fatigued at the end, but I never felt like I was about to bonk. At the finish I was definitely tired, but I didn’t feel like I totally ruined myself. Definitely, a learning experience and there’s a lot I can improve on.”

Rounding out the Americans, Katharine Ogden finished 37th.

There’s just one final race of the 2021 World Championships, with the men racing the 50k classic on Sunday. The women next head to Engadin, Switzerland for a 10k classic and 30k skate World Cup.

Women’s World Championships 30k classic

Sunday, March 7
7:00 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Men’s 50k classic mass start - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock

Tuesday, March 9
12:30 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Men’s 50k classic mass start - same-day broadcast, Oberstdorf, GER, NBCSN