Jessie Diggins clinches historic World Cup overall title

Jessie Diggins
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Jessie Diggins is the second American — and first American woman — to win the biggest annual prize in cross-country skiing, the World Cup overall title.

Diggins recently clinched when it was decided that the World Cup Finals will not be held next week.

The Finals were originally to be in Beijing, but in the autumn it was announced that no international skiing and snowboarding events would be held at 2022 Winter Olympic venues this season. The Finals were rescheduled for Lillehammer, Norway, then canceled again last month. The International Ski Federation left open the possibility that the Finals could be rescheduled at a different location until recently.

Diggins, who in 2018 with now-retired Kikkan Randall won the U.S.’ first Olympic cross-country skiing title, leads the overall standings by 342 points with two races left on Saturday and Sunday. A race winner gets 100 points, so it’s mathematically impossible for Diggins to be passed.

ON HER TURF: Diggins on body image education, why sports journalism needs more women

Diggins joins Bill Koch as the only Americans to win a World Cup overall title. Koch did so in 1982, six years after he won the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal (silver) that remained the lone American podium finish until Diggins and Randall took the team sprint in PyeongChang.

The World Cup overall takes results from an entire season of competitions across different distances and techniques.

“It’s always been a big dream of mine to be able to show up ready to play, no matter what it is: distance, sprint, classic [style], skate [style], skiathlon,” Diggins, 29, said last month. “Whatever it is, I want to show up and be ready to give it my best fight. I’m finally getting to that place in my career.”

Diggins earned a pair of fourth-place finishes at the recently completed world championships — in the 10km freestyle and as part of the relay.

Earlier this season, she became the first American to win the Tour de Ski, a Tour de France-like stage race. Norway’s best skiers skipped that event (and other early season races), but Diggins later beat them at a World Cup in January.

In all, Diggins won four times on the World Cup among nine total podiums this season. She is the first non-Norwegian woman to win the World Cup overall since Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won her fourth crown in 2013.

Diggins finished second in the World Cup overall standings in the 2017-18 season.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined

Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship

The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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