Jessie Diggins’ Tour de Ski history; Kikkan Randall’s 5th Olympics

Leave a comment

The U.S. cross-country team that has made so much history the last few years just made some more.

Jessie Diggins became the first American to finish the Tour de Ski on the podium on Sunday, third overall in the 12th annual edition of the World Cup stage race.

The U.S. Olympic cross-country team also grew with the conclusion of the Tour de Ski. Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell previously qualified for PyeongChang.

Now they’re joined by Kikkan Randall, a 35-year-old mom going to her fifth Olympics, and Liz Stephen and Rosie Brennan. And Sadie’s brother, Erik.

No U.S. woman has competed in five Winter Games, but Randall, snowboarder Kelly Clark and Alpine skier Julia Mancuso can do so next month.

A full list of U.S. athletes qualified for the Olympics across all sports is here.

The Tour de Ski is akin to the Tour de France, though it’s only a week long. It’s a test of all-around skiing with sprint and distance races in both classical and freestyle technique.

Diggins, 26, overcame a 10-second deficit to Finland’s Krista Parmakoski in the pursuit Sunday to grab the last podium spot.

Norway’s Heidi Weng overtook countrywoman Ingvild Flugstad Østberg to win the Tour de Ski for a second straight year.

Diggins capped a consistently strong Tour de Ski. She finished third, fourth, fifth and seventh among the first six stages leading into Sunday’s finale.

Diggins and Stephen shared the previous best overall Tour de Ski finish for an American — fifth.

Add this to Diggins’ groundbreaking accomplishments.

In 2013, she and Randall won the first U.S. world title (team sprint).

Last year, Diggins added two more medals to give her four total and become the most decorated American in world championships history.

Diggins is one of four U.S. women with a World Cup podium this season, along with Randall, Bjornsen and Caldwell.

They’re all seeking the second U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal in PyeongChang, 42 years after Bill Koch‘s 30km silver in Innsbruck.

Randall, the trailblazer for U.S. cross-country in the mid-2000s, took a break after Sochi to have son Breck in April 2016. She returned last season and won sprint bronze at worlds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Ashley Wagner ‘furious’ over U.S. Championships scores

Stina Nilsson wins opening World Cup cross-country sprint

Getty Images
1 Comment

RUKA, Finland (AP) Swedish skier Stina Nilsson won a women’s sprint race as the cross-country World Cup opened for its Olympic season on Friday.

Nilsson won the women’s classical event by 0.24 seconds from Sadie Bjornsen of the United States. Yulia Belorukova of Russia was third, 0.91 seconds off the pace.

Nilsson continued her strong form after winning the last three World Cup sprints last season.

“I had a really good feeling,” she said.

Russia entered three men’s and women’s skiers who have been banned by the International Olympic Committee for their part in a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics. The IOC bans don’t affect non-Olympic events.

Belorukova hasn’t faced any IOC sanctions.

MORE: Russian skiers banned from Olympics, World Cup OK

U.S. adds another medal at cross-country skiing worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cross-country skiers Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen made it three medals for the U.S. at the world championships on Sunday.

Diggins and Bjornsen earned bronze in the team sprint event, 18.38 seconds behind winner Norway and 12.8 seconds behind silver medalist Russia. Diggins and Kikkan Randall previously earned silver and bronze in the individual sprint on Thursday.

It’s the first worlds where the U.S. has earned medals in multiple cross-country events.

On Sunday, Diggins lunged at the line to beat Sweden to third place by a fifth of a second.

“I was double poling like a maniac,” Diggins said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I skied the downhill the best I knew how and was able to draft her and get into my own lane with the best line — I took the inside lane so I knew I would be able to pick my track going into the final 100 meters. Then I just double poled my heart out.”

Bjornsen fell after completing the second exchange and was struck in the face by Russian Yulia Belorukova‘s ski, but was able to continue.

The team sprint is a 6×1.3km relay, with each country’s skiers alternating to race three legs each. It will be contested at the 2018 Olympics in the freestyle technique. Sunday’s event was classic skiing, marking the first American medal in worlds in the classic technique since the two disciplines were established.

Russia won the men’s team sprint after a dramatic last-lap crash wrecked the chances of the two leading teams.

Norway’s Emil Iversen was fighting for the lead with Finland’s Iivo Niskanen but they collided as the Finn moved to overtake on the inside of the final bend.

Sergei Ustyugov took the win for Russia, overtaking Italian Federico Pellegrino on the final stretch to win by 2.2 seconds. Niskanen recovered to take third, 6.5 seconds further back.

It was the second win in two days for Ustyugov, who also won Saturday’s skiathlon, and his third medal of the championships.

Ustyugov’s teammate for Sunday’s race, Nikita Kryukov, said the win was “revenge for Sochi,” a reference to the 2014 Winter Olympics, when Finland beat Russia to gold in the men’s team sprint in front of a Russian home crowd.

Also Sunday, Germany won the men’s team Nordic combined normal hill event. The Germans dominated the ski jumping to take a 44-second advantage into the 4x5km cross-country ski stage, and preserved that margin to win by 41.7 seconds from Norway.

Austria won a close battle with Japan to take third, 22 seconds behind the Norwegians.

It was Germany’s second gold medal in Nordic combined at the world championships after Johannes Rydzeck led a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s individual normal hill event Friday.

The Germans added another gold medal with a dominant victory in the mixed team ski jumping.

They led after each of the eight rounds and racked up a winning score of 1035.5 points, with strong jumps from Markus Eisenbichler, who set the longest jump at 99.5 meters, and the newly crowned women’s world champion Carina Vogt.

Austria was second on 999.3 and Japan third on 979.7.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: ‘Worst skier alive’ makes it to cross-country worlds after deportation

The Associated Press contributed to this report.