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Skiing - 28. February 2011.

Brooks Makes Most of Last Minute Start at the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships

Last minute starter Holly Brooks (Anchorage) led the USA Monday finishing 27th in the women's 10k classic at the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo. Rookie Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) had her second top 30 of the Championships, in 29th.

Norwegian superstar Marit Bjoergen, who took her third gold medal and has dominated the Championships, took the win by a scant 4.1 seconds over Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk who led much of the race.

Bjoergen won in 27:39.3. Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen took bronze leading four Finns into the top eight. Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) was 32nd.

Brooks, whose last classic outing a week ago in a World Cup in Drammen was not strong, was surprised to get the nod late Sunday. She took advantage of the opportunity to earn a top 30 spot.

"I've blown up in both 10k classics I've done this year so I was a little nervous going into it and just tried to use a completely different tactic," said Brooks. "There are some seriously big hills here. I knew if I went out with a quick pace I couldn't sustain - it would be really miserable. So I just tried to ski within myself and to ski smooth for the most part. It made a huge difference. I'm really happy with the effort today."

Bjornsen, who started 25th in the interval start race, was actually one of the early leaders into the stadium. It was only the second major Championship race for the 21-year old who, like Brooks, skis out of the Alaska Pacific University program in Anchorage. She was 2:27.5 back from the leaders.

"The leader chair was very comfy!" she laughed. "I went hard from the start because I have been doing that the last couple races. If I blow up, I blow up. But it's worth just trying to go out like a bat out of hell. I think it went well. In the middle I struggled a little but then came back at the end."

Like a good World Championship course, it was hilly and challenged every athlete to the finish.

"It's the hilliest course I've ever skied so it's good to feel like I can ski all sorts of courses," said Bjornsen. "There were so many people saying my name out there. As I came into the stadium I heard the announcer say I had the top time, so I thought, 'OK, I gotta go!'"

"It was a tough day for me," said Randall, who is planning to ski in all remaining races including Wednesday's classic team sprint. "Sometimes I'm not very effective in these conditions. I haven't quite figured out my technique for them. I felt like I was slipping a lot out there and I didn't feel like I was totally ready to dig in but I put in a good hard effort. I think this will me help out for the next couple of days."

"It’s a really hard course," said Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT), who was 51st. "There are a lot of steep and long up hills, but lots of cheering - more cheering that I've ever had before! There's a lot of skiing by yourself but with all the cheering it didn't feel like you were out there alone."

Action continues at Holmenkollen Tuesday with the men's 15k classic where Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) will be among favorites. Freeman has twice finished fourth in the event at World Championships, including the 2009 Worlds in Liberec, Czech Republic. Men and women are also in action Wednesday with the classic team sprint.

FIS World Nordic Ski Championships
Oslo, Norway – Feb. 28, 2011
10k Classic

Gold: Marit Bjoergen, Norway, 27:39.3
Silver: Justyna Kowalczyk, Poland, 27:43.4
Bronze: Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finland, 27:49.0

27. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, 29:54.2
29. Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, 30:06.8
32. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 30:21.2
51. Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT, 31.13.3

For complete results visit: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=17536
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