Jessie Diggins, one half of the U.S. sprint team to win the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in cross-country skiing in 2018, won her first World Cup race of the season in Italy.
With the start of the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championship just days away, Diggins clawed her way to the front of the pack in the women’s sprint, stretching at the line to overtake Germany’s Sandara Ringwald for the win.
“There’s been lots of ups-and-downs this year,” Diggins said after the race. “I’ve been sick a lot, there’s been a lot of doubt, and sometimes losing my self-confidence, so i think it’s good to remember that you don’t know what’s going to happen until the last 100m of any race and you have to keep believing in yourself and keep pushing the whole way.”
Diggins was fortunate to even make it through to the final race. Her 3 minutes and 32.14 second time in the semifinals was the slowest of the six women to advance to the final, but it was fast enough to get her in, and that’s all she needed.
Diggins’ U.S. teammate Sadie Bjornsen also advanced to the final, finishing the day in fifth. Bjornsen finished the day in fifth. Sophie Caldwell, currently fourth in World Cup sprint points this season, also raced for the U.S. but was unable to advance past her quarterfinal heat in Cogne.
The top three sprinters on the World Cup this season, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson and Maja Dahlqvist along with Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla were not racing this weekend in Italy. Nilsson has not raced since she injured herself in a race in January in Estonia.
In the men’s sprint, Italy’s Frederico Pellegrino claimed the top podium spot, while the U.S. Simi Hamilton posted his best finish of the season, ending up just off the podium in fourth.