Men’s Relay at World Championships

Yesterday was the men’s 4 by 10km relay. At the team meeting on Thursday night we changed things up from previous relays by setting a goal for the team, not just individual goals. We set our sights on a top-8 finish. We also talked about relay strategy and how it’s more important, especially for the first three legs, to not blow up (and consequently lose minutes) than it is to gain seconds. The discussion we had was really good for me to reevaluate my relay strategy.

Andy Newell skied an awesome scramble leg. He came in with the lead pack. Kris Freeman skied well until the last couple of kilometers when he really struggled. He finished his leg in ninth, thirty seconds behind our goal of top-8. I felt good and controlled on my leg. A french skier started the third leg just behind me. He skied the fasted time for the third leg and was a great person for me to follow. I followed him for the first two laps then tried to drop him on the third. He was too tough for me to drop and we finished together. I was still in ninth place when I tagged off to Tad Elliott, but we were only three seconds behind seventh place. We were one minute behind the leaders. The pace of the leaders at the beginning of the last leg was slower than a walk. Nobody wanted to lead. Tad heard this from our coaches and decided to risk blowing up to try to catch the lead pack. He caught them amazingly quickly, making up one minute in 3.3 kilometers. He was unable to hold on for too long and he finished in tenth place. Although we fell short of our goal, we are happy to be “in the mix”. Tenth place is our best relay finish at a major championships since the Salt Lake Olympics in 2002.

Jessie Diggins convinced us to follow the girls lead with some team spirit. I opted for glitter:

Noah Hoffman Glitter

The other boys went with face paint. Even Erik Bjornsen, who wasn’t skiing yesterday, got in on the action.

Erik Bjornsen Facepaint

Here’s Jessie painting Kris’s face:

Jessie Diggins Painting Kris Freeman's Face

While I was in Jessie’s room I was checking out her gold medal from the Team Sprint last Sunday:

Jessie Diggins' FIS Gold Medal

It was a beautiful day for the race yesterday! Here’s a look at the lead pack on the second leg (Kris’s leg):

World Championship Men's Relay Lead Pack

The crowds were the biggest they’ve been all week. They reminded me of World Champs in Oslo two years ago. Here’s Andy Newell getting interviewed after his leg:

Andy Newell World Championship Relay Interview

It was HOT out:

Hot World Championship Relay

24 degrees Celsius is 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s a look at Tad Elliott coming down the “teardrop” as the leaders go up it with 400 meters to go in the race:

Teardrop Hill World Championships Relay

Here’s Tad (second place) along with France (leading) and Japan going around the teardrop:

Tad Elliott World Championship Relay

Here’s Norway’s Petter Northug leading Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson at the finish:

World Championship Men's Relay Finish

And here’s Tad crossing the finish line:

Tad Elliott Finishing World Championship Relay

Andy was hanging out in the sun watching the last three legs:

Andy Newell Watching World Championship Relay

At yesterday’s pre-race meeting, it was Jessie’s turn to make an entrance. She came dancing in:

Jessie Diggins Dancing at Meeting