Jessie Diggins is the first American cross-country skier to win an individual world title

As jessie diggin clinched the first individual gold medal in US cross-country skiing history on Tuesday, she noticed that all of the American wax technicians rushed onto the course to cheer her on. There were so many that she didn’t recognize at least one.

“I remember thinking at one point, I don’t even know who it was,” Diggins, who went on to interview after interview in tears of joy, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “They were just going crazy, and it felt so good. When you’re in great shape, it still hurts, but you feel like you can push so hard.

In his trademark style, Diggins skied a flat-out race for 23 minutes and 40 seconds to win the 10km freestyle world championships in Planica, Slovenia. She won by 14 seconds over the Swedish Frida Karlson. Another Swede, Ebba Anderssonwon bronze in an event where skiers exited 30 seconds apart, making it an individual test against the clock.

Diggins, two days after leading Norwegian and Swedish skiers behind her in the team sprint, where she won bronze with Julia Kernstarted his 10k one minute after Karlsson, who won silver at the last Worlds in 2021.

Within the first four minutes, Diggins had opened up a three-second lead over Karlsson. Diggins held a similar lead each time over 7.7 kilometres, keeping the suspense going. But in the final six minutes she put the hammer down, leaving no doubt as she skied to the finish and collapsed on the snow, just ahead of Karlsson.

“I couldn’t stop crying after the race,” said Diggins, who ran with gold glitter on her cheeks. “I was like, ‘I can’t even enjoy it because I can’t even see. I cry all the time.’ But it was so special.”

American cross-country skiers have already won 13 Olympic or world championship medals dating back to 1976, but Tuesday marked the first gold in an individual event.

Diggins, already the American cross-country ski record holder for Olympic medals (one of each color), world championship medals (now six) and individual World Cup victories (14), added another feather to his cap.

“It’s wonderful to have a monkey on your back, even for an athlete as decorated as Jessie,” said the American coach. Matt Whitcomb NRK said. “She probably couldn’t give you all the stats on herself. All she can tell you is that you give her a class like this, and she knows she can at least be evenly ahead when it comes to going the strongest. It really is Jessie’s attribute that is most admirable. She can just go out and suffer.

It was historic. It was also moving.

Diggins attributed the tears not only to the team effort of wax technicians, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists and massage therapists. But also because she’s been away from home, and largely away from her newly married hubby, all season.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like doing what I do because it’s not easy,” she said.

Diggins called it a season of ups and downs. In December, she tied and broke her retired Olympic champion teammate Kikkan Randallthe American record for World Cup victories.

But before the start of the World Cup circuit, her teammates awoke to find her curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor in November. Diggins thought he caught a 24-hour flu virus after traveling in Europe.

Then at the Tour de Ski, a stage race similar to the Tour de France that takes place around New Years, she finished 40th, 30th and 40th. Scandinavian media recommended that she withdraw from the Tour, which she won in 2021.

Diggins continued to race, skiing the fastest time in a pursuit and then finishing the Tour with a fifth-place finish on the grueling final stage, a 10km climb up Alpe Cermis in Italy.

“I knew I was in good shape, mostly because of (the pursuit),” Diggins said Tuesday. “But, to be honest, we struggled with the wax on my skis, and you have to have it all to have a competitive race. That’s why when we win, we win as a team.

Diggins continued his progress with three podiums in his last five individual races before the world championships, then an impressive performance in Sunday’s team sprint.

Next, she’s banking on more history, looking to help the United States win its first medal in a relay on Thursday. Diggins was among the American relays that finished fourth or fifth at each of the last five world championships.

Tuesday “could have been” the perfect race, she said.

“All the pieces came together — your body and your brain and your pace and your technique and the skis and the weather,” she said. “It was very special.”

OlympicTalk is enabled Apple News. Promote us!

Leave a Comment