12 XC Skiers Trained in VT, Are Headed to the Olympics

With more than half the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team training in Vermont, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the Olympic Team was announced. Of the 20 athletes heading to Pyeong Chang, 10 have trained in Vermont. (For the full story of how the women’s team has risen from one  strong contender to a powerhouse team, see How the Nordic Team Came to Be ).

Liz Stephen of Montpelier in the Tour de Ski in 2016.
Veterans Andy Newell (Shaftsbury), Sophie Caldwell (Peru), Liz Stephen (Montpelier) and Ida Sargent (Barton), all grew up skiing in Vermont. They’ve trained together for nearly a decade and it was the strenght of their training that has attracted Jessie Diggins (the World Cup points leader on the team) to buy a house in Vermont and to move here to train and for Simi Hamilton to move from Aspen, Colo., to Vermont to train as well. Likewise, Noah Hoffman has come to Vermont to train with his coach and wax technician Zach Caldwell of Putney and Patrick Caldwell (Sophie’s cousins) of Lyme, N.H.
University of Vermont grads Caitlin Patterson and her brother Scott also earned places on the team by winning the men’s and women’s Nationals in Anchorage in January. Brother/sister duo  Erik and Sadie Bjornsen are also on the team as well as brothers Reese and Logan Hanneman.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Friday (January 26) announced its selections for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Cross Country Skiing Team that will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 beginning February 9.

Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins. Photo courtesy USSA/Reese Brown

A team of veteran U.S. cross country skiers with proven results led by Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.), Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) will head to the Games in PyeongChang with a strong opportunity for success. Diggins is presently ranked third in the world, with Bjornsen seventh.

Among those named is Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, Alaska), who will be competing in her fifth Games – the most ever for a U.S. cross country skier.

“It’s such an incredible honor to be joining another U.S. Olympic Team,” said Randall. “Being able to represent my country on the world’s biggest stage is always a big highlight that I look forward to every four years. I am especially excited about this team going into 2018 as the strongest cross country contingent I’ve ever been a part of.”

The team includes 20 athletes who qualified for the team through World Cup results as well as domestic racing results at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships.

“The U.S. Ski Team is headed to PyeongChang with one of the most talented and decorated Olympic Teams of all time,” said Cross Country Head Coach Chris Grover. “Never in our history have we fielded a team with so many podium-proven World Cup and World Championship athletes. We also have incredible momentum in this Olympic season with 10 World Cup podiums secured by early January. These USA Olympians have prepared extremely well for PyeongChang and are looking to rewrite U.S. cross country skiing history.”

The Opening Ceremonies for the Games are set for February 9. The cross country team will have its first competition on Saturday, February 10 with the women’s skiathlon – a blend of classic and freestyle technique. Diggins will be among contenders in that event.

NBCUniversal will present more than 2,400 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app – the most ever for a Winter Olympics.

TEAM FACTS

  • The U.S. women will come into the Games on the heels of a strong season in sprint and distance racing, as well as classical and freestyle technique.
  • Jessie Diggins presently stands third in the FIS World Cup overall rankings with Sadie Bjornsen seventh.
  • Sophie Caldwell is third in the FIS World Cup sprint rankings with Diggins sixth. Diggins stands fifth in distance with Bjornsen 11th.
  • Kikkan Randall will compete in her fifth Olympics, the most ever for a U.S. cross country skier. Andy Newell will make his fourth Olympic appearance, matching the U.S. mark held by Bill Koch, Torin Koos and Nina Kemppel.
  • Newell and Simi Hamilton will lead the USA in sprint events for the men, with Erik Bjornsen the top contender in distance racing.
  • The U.S. women are expected to be contenders for a medal in the 4x5k relay. The women have been fourth in the last three World Championships.
  • America’s only cross country Olympic medal was won by Bill Koch when he took silver in the 30k race at the 1976 Olympics in Seefeld, Austria.
  • Cross country has one of the largest Olympic programs with five events each for men and women.
  • The team features three sibling pairs – Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, Scott and Caitlin Patterson, and Logan and Reese Hanneman, plus a pair of cousins in Sophie and Patrick (Paddy) Caldwell.
  • The U.S. team will compete this weekend in Seefeld, site of next year’s World Championships.

2018 U.S. OLYMPIC CROSS COUNTRY SKIING TEAM

(Green indicates they trained in Vermont)

Women
Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, Wash. (11/21/1989) *
Rosie Brennan, Park City, Utah (12/02/1988)
Sophie Caldwell, Peru, Vt. (3/22/1990) *
Jessie Diggins, Afton, Minn. (8/26/1991) *
Rosie Frankowski, Anchorage, Alaska (7/30/1991)
Anne Hart, Stillwater, Minn. (8/20/1992)**
Kaitlynn Miller, Craftsbury Common, Vt. (8/09/1991)
Caitlin Patterson, Anchorage, Alaska (1/30/1990)
Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, Alaska (12/31/1982) *
Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT (1/25/1988) *
Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT (1/12/1987) * 

Men
Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, Wash. (7/14/1991) *
Patrick Caldwell, Lyme Center, N.H. (2/18/1994)**
Simi Hamilton, Aspen, Colo., (5/14/1987) *
Logan Hanneman, Fairbanks, Alaska (6/02/1993)
Reese Hanneman, Anchorage, Alaska (12/25/1989)
Noah Hoffman, Aspen, Colo. (8/01/1989) * **
Tyler Kornfield, Anchorage, Alaska (2/09/1991)**
Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, Vt. (11/30/1983) *
Scott Patterson, Anchorage, Alaska (1/28/1992)

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports. Loves skiing, riding, cycling and anything that can keep her outdoors, 356 days a year.

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