Diggins Wins Stage 1 Sprint, Kern Fourth At Tour De Ski
Jessie Diggins kicked off the FIS Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, with a victory in Tuesday’s freestyle sprint, leading five of her Davis U.S. Cross Country teammates into the top 29, including Julia Kern. The latter just missed the podium in fourth.
“I'm so proud of our team,” Diggins said following her 12th career World Cup victory. “(We) had really amazing skis…they were flying out there and we had a great day as a team.”
Diggins’ parents Clay, Deb, and her sister Mackenzie were in the crowd to cheer her on, making the win all the more special. “It was so special for me to have my family here,” said Diggins, who spent the Christmas break with her family. “That just means so much. I had such a wonderful Christmas break, it was such an incredible burst of happiness and a wonderful reset. And for me, happiness is fast. I came into (Tuesday’s race) in a good place, rested and ready to go!”
Along with Diggins and Kern, Hailey Switbul, Kevin Bolger, Logan Hanneman, and Ben Ogden qualified for the heats. Both Swirbul and Diggins raced in the opening qualifying heat, but near the end of the first lap, Diggins was in the lead, with Switzerland’s Nadine Faehndrich sitting second and Swirbul in third. Faehndrich caught an edge and went down coming into the downhill corner, forcing Swirbul to the outside, where she crashed into the sponsor boards lining the exterior of the course. Fortunately, she wasn’t injured but did not move into the semifinals. Diggins won and moved into the semifinals, where she took her second win of the day to advance to the finals.
Meanwhile, Kern won both her quarterfinal and semifinal heats with a combination of smart tactics and fast sprinting. “I had a pretty dialed strategy based on looking at footage from previous years (of sprints at Lenzerheide)” Kern said, adding that being near the front, while trying to ski a chill first lap, and passing on the right were her keys to victory in the opening heats.
In the women’s final, both Diggins and Kern positioned themselves well on the first lap, with Diggins charging into the lead on the second lap and powering up the final climb. Kern was right behind her, but Norway’s Mathilde Myhrvold and Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampic snuck around her on the downhill to take the final two podium spots. However, with her fourth-place result, Kern did achieve the criteria (top eight individual World Cup finish) to be nominated to Team USA to compete at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
“Our skis were awesome today,” said Kern, who also had her parents Dorothee and Gunther, and her sister Nadja in the crowd cheering her on. “A lot of fun energy out there and great support from our staff. So it was a great day to kick off the Tour.”
Tuesday's victory was not only a big result for Diggins but a tremendous result for the entire U.S. Team at the Tour de Ski. “We have an amazing support team here on the Tour this year,” Diggins said. “So many resources and so many people helping us get the most out of this Tour.”
For the U.S. men, Ogden finished fifth in the qualifier, with Bolger in ninth and Hanneman sneaking into the final spot in 30th. In the opening heats, Bolger finished fourth, while both Hanneman and Ogden were fifth in their respective heats.
The usual cast of characters populated the podium, with Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo taking the win, followed by Richard Jouve of France in second, and Lucas Chanavat of France in third. Bolger was 16th, Ogden 21st adn Hanneman 25th.
Stage 2 of the Tour de Ski features a 10k classic individual start for the women and a 15k classic individual start for the men Wednesday in Lenzerheide.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021
7:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski Stage 2 Women’s 10k Classic Individual Start - LIVE, Lenzerheide, SUI, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock
9:05 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski Stage 2 Men’s 15k Classic Individual Start - LIVE, Lenzerheide, SUI, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock
Friday, Dec. 31, 2021
6:55 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski Stage 3 Women’s 10k Freestyle Mass Start - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock
9:25 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski Stage 3 Men’s 15k Freestyle Mass Start - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock