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Fresh Snow, Cheering Fans Power Brennan Onto Lillehammer Podium

By Tom Horrocks
December, 4 2021

Fresh snowfall and cheering fans have a way of bringing out the best in Rosie Brennen.  

“It was a great day for me today,” Brennan said after posting her first FIS Cross Country World Cup podium of the season, finishing third in the 10k freestyle individual start in Lillehammer, Norway. “It snowed a bit overnight and the winter conditions were beautiful. I love skiing in new snow. It was great to have spectators out there today too! I forgot how fun it is to have fans.” 

Sweden’s Frida Karlsson continued to display her early-season fitness, winning her second race of the season by just 0.03 seconds over Norway’s Therese Johaug. Brennan was third at 11.3 seconds back. Jessie Diggins was 18th, while Hailey Swirbul just missed scoring points, finishing 32nd. Julia Kern was 36th; Sophia Laukli 46th; Movie McCabe 52nd; Caitlin Patterson 53rd; and Katharine Ogden was 56th.

In the men’s 15k individual start freestyle, Gus Schumacher was the top Davis U.S. Cross Country Team finisher in 38th. Zanden McMullen was 48th, Hunter Wonders 63rd, David Norris 64th, and Ben Ogden 67th. Scott Patterson, racing in his first World Cup of the season since recovering from a wrist injury sustained in training over the summer, was 70th. Norway swept the men’s podium with Simen Hegstad Kruger taking the win, Hans Christer Holund in second, and Martin Loewstroem Nyenget in third.

Organizers in Lillehammer debuted new courses for this weekend’s races, which are shorter than courses traditionally used for previous World Cup events and the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. The shorter distance courses require multiple laps. For Saturday’s 10k, the athletes completed three laps on a 3.3k course.

“There is no rest, and the terrain requires constant work, especially with the slightly slower conditions,” Brennan said, adding that she enjoyed the new course design, despite the increased traffic. “With a three-lap course, we had more traffic out there than usual, so I skied with some other skiers but mostly felt like I was giving some others a good ride.”

Brennan added that with so many skiers on the course simultaneously, it was difficult to gauge her actual position in the race. “I knew it was tight, so I really tried to let loose the last lap and trust my strength,” she said. “I had great skis and was able to hold pace all the way to the finish while others faded, giving me a podium.”

Brennan flirted with the podium at the 4.6k point of the race, moving into the fourth position. But it wasn’t until the 7.4lk mark that she moved into podium contention when Johaug briefly moved into the lead, with Karlsson at 0.6 seconds back and Brennan at 10.5 seconds off the pace. At the 8.3k interval, Karlsson moved back into the lead, with Johaug second at 0.6 seconds and Brennan third at 10.5 seconds back. 

“I am thrilled to find myself on the podium and feel really good about my fitness,” said Brennan, who sits third in the World Cup distance standings through three races. She is also fourth in the overall World Cup standings, with Diggins sitting fifth.

Racing concludes Sunday with men’s 4x7.5k relay and the women’s 4x5k relay. 

Women’s 10k freestyle
Men’s 15k freestyle

Women’s World Cup overall
Men’s World Cup overall
Women’s World Cup distance
Men’s World Cup distance

Sunday, Dec. 5
3:20 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Men 4x7.5k Relay - LIVE, Lillehammer, NOR, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live
5:45 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Women 4x5k Relay - LIVE, Lillehammer, NOR, Streaming Peacock, Ski and Snowboard Live