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Special Contributor to the 2014 American Birkebeiner

Caitlin Gregg broke away from a pack of elite women and skied solo over the last 15 kilometers to win her third American Birkebeiner, on a sunny but cold Saturday in northern Wisconsin.

Gregg had hoped this season would end with competition in the Olympics in Sochi, but she failed to make the U.S. team. That disappointment helped fuel her intensity, and propelled her to a second straight win in the 41st annual Birkie.

“My motto has been if you don’t achieve one goal, that doesn’t mean you don’t keep fighting for the next one,” said Gregg, whose husband, Brian, is skiing for the U.S. in Sochi.

Thomas Reichelt, a German, outsprinted a pair of Italians and put his skis across the finish line first on Hayward’s Main Street, in the men’s 50K race.

Reichelt said the intense pace early was a challenge, but he felt he had superior speed as the leaders reached the final kilometers

“I was pushing very hard,” Reichelt said. “Now I can drink a beer because it’s great for me.”

Fresh snow that fell heavily Thursday and Friday created slow and challenging conditions for the elites and 10,000 others who took the start line in … Keep Reading.

Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:15 pm