Feb. 28—Alaska skiers Scott Patterson and David Norris enjoyed top-of-the-world feelings Saturday at the Nordic World Ski Championships, where both turned in top-20 performances in the men’s 30-kilometer skiathlon.
Patterson finished 14th and Norris placed 17th to lead the American men. In the women’s 15K skiathlon, Jessie Diggins led the United States in 15th place. Anchorage’s Hailey Swirbul was 37th.
For both Patterson and Norris, the mixed-technique race in Oberstdorf, Germany, came a full month after their last race. The results were career-bests at the world championships as well as season-bests for both.
“I’m psyched with that,” Patterson told U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “It’s the first race of World Champs — I haven’t raced in a month. I felt good. I’m looking forward to some more racing.
“I felt strong out there. I’m really excited for this week coming up.”
Patterson, a 29-year-old who trains at Alaska Pacific University, lost a photo finish for 13th place and was three seconds out of the top 10.
His time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, 37.2 seconds put him 2:03.3 behind winner Alexander Bolshunov of Russia. It was one of the best results of his career — one that perhaps ranks second to his 11th-place showing in the 50K at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
It was also his best result of the season — Patterson placed 15th in a 10K freestyle race on Jan. 29 in Falun, Sweden. The next day, he was 66th in a 15K classic.
Norris, a 30-year-old APU skier, skied in the same races last month Falun. He placed 40th in the skate race and 60th in the classic race.
He started the season late after contracting COVID-19, and his race Saturday — 15 kilometers of classic skiing followed by 15 kilometers of skate skiing — was by far his best of the season. He finished about 16 seconds slower than Patterson and was 2:20 off the winning pace.
“The first 3K of the skate I was still suffering from the final effort in the classic and then all of a sudden my legs got under me and I felt pretty free,” Norris told U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “It was the best I felt all season skating. That was awesome.”
Hunter Wonders, another APU skier, placed 31st. He was 4:25 off the winning time.
Norway’s Therese Johaug won the women’s race by 30 seconds. Absent from the race were APU skiers Sadie Maubet Bjornsen and Rosie Brennan. Among those who didn’t do the men’s race was Alaska Winter Stars skier Gus Schumacher.