Snow Farm, New Zealand 4 September 2018 – Kyle Bratrud and Jessie Diggins from the USA ruled the close racing today at Snow Farm in the FIS Australia New Zealand Cup Freestyle Interval Start Race.
It was a strong showing for the American women in their race, taking the top 5 spots. Winter Olympic Gold Medallist in the Cross-Country Women’s Team Sprint in PyeongChang, Jessie Diggins won by 10 seconds over her teammate fellow Olympian Sophie Caldwell. Diggins was excited to be racing and training again, “It was really fun and for us. It was a great chance to get back into racing, to get back into that feeling of putting a bib on and going really hard.
“We are really happy as a team to get to do these races down here. And it is really fun and they do a great job. It is a very hard course. It is right on par with all of the World Cup’s toughest courses. I certainly felt it. It was very challenging out there.” This is a second year Diggins has won this event at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ.
Finishing the top three was Caitlin Patterson who is also an Olympian competing in 30K mass start classic and 7.5/7.5K skiathlon in PyeongChang. The ladies field raced a course of 5km, all starting at 30 second intervals.
Bratrud who came first in the 2017 US National Champs 15km Freestyle commented, “It was hard. We have been here for two weeks training so we are all pretty tired but it is a fun course and the conditions are great with some fresh snow the other day. It was fun to do the shorter laps and come through the stadium and get cheered on by everybody. Instead of being out on a lonely 10km loop. It was a good time. I am very impressed by the races here and look forward to the next few days of racing.”
Kaichi Naruse from Japan came a close second taking only 28 minutes 9 seconds to finish the 10km course for the men, 21 seconds behind the leader and American Ben Lustgarten came third by a mere 2 seconds.
Top New Zealander 16-year-old Campbell Wright had an impressive showing coming in 7thagainst some strong older competitors. “Today was fun and it was a great course, hilly but good,” Campbell commented. “It is such a great experience racing the tops guys. It gives you a feel of how fast you need to go if you were to succeed.”