Who is... Sadie Bjornsen?
At the impressionable age of just four years old, Sadie Bjornsen attended a parade near her home in Washington state's Methow Valley to welcome home U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Olympians Laura McCabe and Leslie Thompson after they had competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games. Even at her young age, Bjornsen remembers recognizing the honor associated with competing at the Olympic Games, and from that point on, it became her dream to one day race for her country.
After witnessing the homecoming of her Olympian neighbors, Bjornsen became focused on ski racing. Her skiing started on alpine slopes, but once she started to detest the long, frigid rides up the mountain on chair lifts, Bjornsen found it more appealing to stay warm through constant motion while cross-country skiing.
Bjornsen family vacations often consisted of long road trips across the American West traveling from event to event so Sadie and her brother Erik could compete in cross-country races. There were no regimented training plans for those races, just weekends spent traversing the trails together as a family.
In 2017, Bjornsen won her first individual medal on the World Cup circuit. Racing in the fifth race of the seven-stage Tour de Ski, a 5km individual event, she finished third to take bronze. Her U.S. teammate Jessie Diggins joined Bjornsen on the podium as the top finisher.
Bjornsen and Diggins were together again on the podium at the 2017 World Championships in Lahti, Finland. Racing in the women’s team sprint event, the U.S. duo won bronze, with Diggins racing through exhaustion, beating Sweden’s Stina Nilsson to the finish line on the final leg. Bjornsen, in her world championship debut, celebrated with the collapsed and gasping Diggins in the snow.
Bjornsen felt like she had finally arrived on the cross-country scene when she appeared in her first World Cup and World Championship in 2011, back-to-back, in the mecca of cross-country skiing – Norway.
She would win her first World Cup medal, a silver in the team sprint, with teammate Kikkan Randall in 2011 in Duesseldorf. At the time, the finish ranked as the best team sprint finish for a U.S. team in history.
Bjornsen has a strong classical stride. Her best individual finishes have come in classical races, while she has also become a strong ally for U.S. relay teams, which require some legs to be skied using the old school kick-and-glide.
"You feel like an American football player when you are competing in cross-country skiing in Norway. I remember my first time getting top 30, and realizing this was exactly where and what I wanted to do."
Racing with the U.S. women’s relay team in her Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games, Bjornsen and her teammates finished ninth. She raced in two individual events in Sochi where she finished 18th in the 10km individual (classical) and 31st in the Skiathlon – an event which encompasses 7.5km of classical racing followed by 7.5km of freestyle.
Something Bjornsen credits with helping her deal with the pressures of racing is how she chose to continue working toward her undergraduate degree at Alaska Pacific University while competing on the World Cup. She has since graduated with a degree in Accounting and Nonprofit Business Management, and has started work to secure her Masters of Business from APU.
In July 2017, posting to her Instagram account, Bjornsen announced her engagement to boyfriend Jo Maubet. When she isn't out on the road competing, the couple enjoys everything their Alaskan wilderness home has to offer, where they often hunt and fish for their own food.