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Diggins Maintains Overall Lead Heading Into Tour de Ski Finale

By Tom Horrocks
January, 9 2021
Jessie Diggins
Jessie Diggins finished 10th in Saturday's classic sprint to maintain her overall lead in the 15th FIS Tour de Ski. (© Vianney THIBAUT/NordicFocus)

Jessie Diggins maintained her overall Tour de Ski lead heading into the final stage, finishing 10th in Saturday’s Stage 7 classic sprint in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Rosie Brennan finished 12th and maintained her overall World Cup lead.

"That was a good day today," Diggins said, adding that the staff once again provided amazing skis.  "I did exactly what I needed to out there today in terms of the overall tour. I would have loved to make the finals since my body was feeling great, but that’s just a little extra energy in the bank for tomorrow!"

Sweden swept the women’s podium with Linn Svahn winning her third Tour de Ski stage. Maja Dahlqvist was second and Emma Ribom was third. Diggins leads the overall Tour de Ski standings by 54 seconds over Russia’s Yulia Stupak in second and Finland’s Krista Parmakowski in third.

In addition to Diggins and Brennan, four additional members of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team advanced to the classic sprint heats, including Hailey Swirbul, Julia Kern, Gus Schumacher, and Kevin Bolger.

In the women’s quarterfinal round, Swirbul finished fourth in the first heat. Brennan was second in heat 3 to advance to the semifinals while Diggins won heat 4 to advance, and Kern was third in the fifth heat. Bolger, skiing in the fastest of the five quarterfinal heats, finished fifth in heat 2. Schumacher also finished fifth in his quarterfinal in heat 3. 

In the second heat of the women’s semifinals, Diggings was fifth and Brennan was sixth in a six-up sprint to the line.

"In the quarterfinal, I finally found a little bit snap and was very happy to move on to the semifinal," Brennan said. "Jessie and I were in a very fast semifinal heat which certainly gives you the best chance of Lucky Loser, but I just didn't have the power I need to get those few extra places. This was the first time I have made it to the semis in a classic sprint so I'm happy to have crossed that barrier."

Sweden’s Oskar Svensson won the men’s sprint, followed by Russia’s Kleb Retivykh in second and Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov in third. Bolger finished 23rd and Schumacher was 24th. 

Schumacher sits 18th overall, Scott Patterson 38th, and Kevin Bolger is 49th heading into the final stage. Schumacher is positioned to produce not only the fifth top 30-overall FIS Tour de Ski finish for an American male - something only achieved four times in the history of the race with Noah Hoffman 26th in 2017; 22nd in 2016 (best American result); and 24th in 2014; Kris Freeman was 28th in 2011 - but he is also positioned to achieve the best American overall finish.

Swirbul is 18th in the overall standings, while Katharine Ogden finished 36th Saturday and sits 22nd overall, and Caitlin Patterson was 39th Saturday and sits 34th overall. Scott Patterson was 51st Saturday and sits 38th overall. Brennan is seventh overall, 2:19 back, but just 28 seconds back of Parmakowski for the final podium spot. "I am still in the fight for a strong overall and am looking forward to duking it out the hill tomorrow," Brennan said. 

Sunday’s final stage is a freestyle mass start hill climb up the alpine slopes Val Di Fiemme that averages 12% gradient, with stretches up to 30%, over the last 3.5k. Diggins knows this climb well, having finished sixth on the final climb in last year's Tour de Ski.

"(I am) ready to absolutely destroy myself on that hill climb tomorrow," Diggins said. "The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll be crossing that finish line with absolutely nothing left! I’m proud of this team and what we’ve accomplished together, and excited to go charging one last time."

Stage 7
Women’s classic sprint
Men’s classic sprint

Women’s Tour de Ski overall (through stage 7)
Men’s Tour de Ski overall (through stage 7)
Women’s World Cup overall
Men’s World Cup overall

Sunday, Jan. 10, Val di Fiemme, ITA
Women’s 10k freestyle mass start hill climb
Men’s 10k freestyle mass start hill climb

Sunday, Jan. 10
6:45 a.m. FIS World Cup Cross Country Tour de Ski Women's 10k Mass Start - LIVE, Val di Fiemme, ITA, Streaming Peacock
9:30 a.m. FIS World Cup Cross Country Tour de Ski Men's 10k Mass Start - LIVE, Val di Fiemme, ITA, Streaming Peacock