“As coach Erik Flora would say, “Every 30/50 kilometer race has many chapters”. He says this referring to the large varieties of feelings you can have throughout a 1.5-2.5 hour race; emphasizing the importance of just keeping your head down charging through the highs and lows of the race. One minute you feel invincible, two minutes later your body is cramping, and two minutes after that you find random fast twitch muscles that want to sprint up the climb. If you go into a long race expecting to follow a race plan and feel good, you won’t find that. So, as Erik Flora would say, “many chapters; stay patient”. When I think about my coaches’ description of what I consider one of the hardest races we participate in, I can’t help but see the resemblance with my ski career as a whole….”
-Sadie Maubet Bjornsen
For 15 years, Sadie Maubet Bjornsen has graced APU Nordic Ski Center and the state of Alaska with her determination, distinguished ski career and overall grace. Sadie has chosen to retire as a professional racer after the 2020/2021 cross country ski season.
Sadie’s consistent smile and encouragement to teammates at practice and on and off the race course has been a light that has led APU Nordic and the U.S. Ski team forward. Sadie is a 2 time Olympian and has made history for the U.S. in 2019 being the first female ever to wear the FIS Yellow Bib, representing her as all around leader in the World Cup. She trained and raced competitively for the United States while also earning an undergraduate and graduate degree at Alaska Pacific University. She understands the important of community and has worked with local and national causes, inspiring youth and adults of all ages to engage in fitness and get outside to play every day.
The evolution of athletes is always something in sport that takes place. While seasoned athletes retire, new hopefuls come into play and Sadie at one point was an Olympic hopeful with dreams to achieve and places to go! It seems odd that with a new ski season and Winter Olympics ahead of us, Sadie’s name will not be on that list, but we know her legacy lives on for the new hopefuls that come our way. Sadie has been adamant that though she is retiring from competitive racing, she is not going anywhere and looks forward to participating in the sport into the future in different ways!
This summer, Sadie will begin her move from Olympic Skier to Professional Accountant. We are ecstatic to announce that with her transition, Sadie will also do some part time coaching with APU Nordic helping to mentor the younger generation.
Sadie – from everyone at APU Nordic Ski Center, Alaska Pacific University and the ski community, we wish you the best and congratulate you on an amazing ski career! You have exemplified excellence, and it has been a true honor to have had you as one of our Elite skiers, teammates and friends.
Sadie has provided us with her story from from a beginner skier through her competitive race career! We are happy to share it with our community.
In my earlier chapters of ski racing, I was raised in an incredible community, family, and system that taught me how to love the outdoors before anything else. After school activities included working on a construction sight with my siblings and parents, learning the importance of the “process”, and building some behind the scenes muscles. Weekend activities involved all day missions hiking over passes, or skiing from town to town. My life was outside, and I had the very best crew to do it with. As I grew older, my competitive edge took over, luring me towards putting a bib on, and traveling the West. One thing lead to another, and before I knew it I was dreaming of wanting to be the best skier in the world, and competing in the Olympics one day. The only issue was that I had outgrown the system in my hometown. I had no money. I was injured after taking an antibiotic that permanently attacked my tendons, and I had no idea where to start.
And so Begins the Alaska Chapter.
I was drawn to this place far away from everything else where it seemed like only the toughest survived. I questioned my ability to live in the dark, fend the bears, and keep up with the famous “blue polar bears” (also known as the APU Nordic team). My initial prospective trip left me thinking otherwise. In simple terms, I got my ass whooped! I walked away making the decision between “I am not cut out for this” or “holy cow, sign me up for a life of type 2 fun”. Thankfully, I was raised in a family that encouraged leaning into the challenge, so I jumped ship and brought my life to Alaska. First as a Seawolf at UAA, and eventually as a Viking, across the street at APU.
Since landing in this state, Alaska has done nothing but welcomed me with open arms. The community educated me, supported me, cheered for me, seasoned me, and helped me put the new layer of strength into my race engine. I came to Alaska, and APU dreaming of making the World Championship team.
Ten years later, I hang up my race bib having raced two Olympics, six World Championship, 188 World Cup starts, achieving 12 World Cup podiums, and a World Championship medal. I was lucky enough to spend the first part of my career walking in the footsteps and learning from some incredible people. And, before I knew it, I found myself one of the older members of the team trying to fill those big shoes that had been left for me.
When I look back on my career and think about the toughest and most exciting chapters, naturally many of them fall at the Olympics. Wanting to win is incredibly thrilling, but it has its vulnerabilities, displayed in front of the world! Often, three people walk away from the event feeling like they accomplished what they set out, and the rest walk away feeling like they fell short. One memory that will stick with me forever is the night before the classic sprint at the 2018 Olympics. I had a strong shot at winning a medal the next day, but I was overcome with nerves and expectations. Erik Flora sensed my hurricane of nerves brewing up, and sat me down. He forced me to think about the significance of the idea that I was in a place to win an Olympic Medal the next day. Whether I accomplished that goal or not, the fact that the eve before the event I was sitting there seeing myself as a medal hopeful was accomplishing a dream in itself. I had already succeeded in putting myself in this place. Despite having come short the following day, I allowed myself to feel a success I am still proud of this day.
Off the result sheet, many of my toughest moments came from overcoming the pattern of injury I inherited after taking an antibiotic called Levaquine, that went on to permanently weaken all the tendons in my body. The number of hours I have spent rehabbing, controlling, monitoring, and overcoming injury is hard to even measure. My ability to step back, adapt, believe, and find a way is something that defined the skier I became. It allowed me to make my brain the strongest muscle on my body. The challenge is what fueled me, even if it felt never ending. I would have never made it through the pattern of struggles without the patience of my coach, physical therapist, Zuzana Rogers, and my teammates. The power of positivity is immeasurable!
While cross country skiing is an individual sport, it has been anything but that for me. I have accomplished the steps I have because I have found a way to surround myself in dedication and determination. I have never feared having the same goal as the girl training beside me, but have used and contributed to the power of the determination we have together. I am incredibly lucky that I have been able to bond together with a team made up of incredible men and woman. Through the highs and lows, they have become my family and my support system!
Looking Towards The Future.
As I close the chapter to professional ski racing, I feel I am not even halfway through this book called “skiing”. In the early chapters, I learned what it meant to love to slide on snow. In the past chapters, I have learned what it meant to chase being the best in the world. As I look forward now, I have more love for this sport than ever. I am incredibly excited to spend some more time in this place I call “home”. After spending all but six weeks here this winter, I learned for the first time how incredible the skiing is around Anchorage. While I have new goals set on becoming a Certified Public Accountant, starting a family, and contributing to this amazing community that has given me wings- skiing will remain a core of the person I will become. I look forward to seeing what this new chapter will look like, but I hope it entails sharing some kilometers with the incredible people of Alaska that have supported me, lifted me, and cheered for me. As such, I am excited to add some part time coaching with APU Nordic Ski Center to compliment my summer transition to the accounting world. One of my favorite pieces of being part of a team for the past ten years has been the power of mentorship. I was mentored by some incredible people, and as I shift into my new world of accounting, I continue to rely on some great mentors. Success is never achieved alone. I look forward to taking some time to pass the baton to the younger generation. A little extra belief, encouragement, and excitement goes a long ways!
I look forward now with a combination of so much appreciation, and excitement for what is next. I thank you Alaska, from the bottom of my heart. It has been an honor to represent you!”
-Sadie Maubet Bjornsen
2 Time Olympian, World Championship Racer & U.S. Ski Team Member, APU Nordic Ski Center Coach
- 2017 World Championship Bronze Medalist
- 2014 and 2018 Olympian
- 11- time World Cup Medalist
- 6-time National Champion
- 10 year US National Ski Team Member
- 1 of 2 athletes to win a medal in all events on the World Cup (skate sprint, distance skate, classic sprint, distance classic)
- First US Woman to wear the Yellow bib in Cross Country Skiing
- Best World Cup overall Rank- 6th
- Best World Cup Finish- 2nd
- Best Olympic Finish- 5th
Best World Championship Finish- 3rd