Kern, Diggins Rally For Second In Dresden Team Sprint
Julia Kern and Jessie Diggins rallied back from a couple of early-race falls to finish second in the FIS Cross Country World Cup freestyle team sprint in Dresden, Germany, Sunday.
“I’m always proud of the ‘never give up' attitude, and I think it really paid off today,” said Diggins, who also credited the U.S. Service Team with working under challenging conditions and providing them fast skis. “We didn’t panic, we just skied as smooth, and smart, and as hard as we could.”
Kern and Diggins, who won their heat to advance to the finals, was sitting comfortably among the top three in the 12-lap race on the Dresden city course, when Diggins got tangled up with Slovenia’s Eva Urevc on the back corner - her second fall of the race. “The first time I crashed, that was all me,” Diggins said. “The second time, that was not my fault. Eva took me down skiing into me from behind, which is a bummer but unintentional, and happens in sprint racing.”
Fortunately, neither fall resulted in any damage, only bruises, and Diggins jumped back up. She tagged off to Kern in ninth-place, who proceeded to turn on the afterburners, weaving her way through the field and pulling the American duo back into podium contention.
With two laps to go, Diggins and Kern had moved into third, and on the final exchange, Diggins tagged off to Kern, who took an inside line and sprinted ahead of Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampic, and Finland’s Jasmi Joensuu for second. Sweden’s duo of Jonna Sundling and Maja Dahlqvist won the race, which was the second-straight victory for Dahlqvist, who has a commanding lead in the overall World Cup sprint standings after winning all five sprint races so far this season. Slovenia’s Lampic and Urevc were third.
“I’m so proud of Julia,” Diggins said. “She was confident and smooth. It was really a battlefield out there. You had to fight for position and she did so with such grace, poise, power, and speed. It was so fun to watch her ski.”
"I thought Jessie and I skied tactically really well and brought awesome energy.," Kern added. "The crashes are part of the game here in Dresden and I thought Jessie skied super smart by getting us right back in it and staying calm. We made a plan for tags and tactics and executed that to the best of our ability and I am proud of the effort we put out as a team."
For Kern, the podium result was extra special, as numerous members of her family, many of whom live in Germany, were there to watch her race.
"It was extra special to have such a large part of my family here in person," Kern said. "Despite no spectators allowed on the course, my family was able to cheer loudly on the bridge from above, and every lap that was the best part of the course. This is always one of my favorite races of the year because it is exciting and it feels like the closest thing to racing at home with my German family there to support me."
In the men’s race, Kevin Bolger and JC Schoonmaker advanced to the 10-team finals and finished ninth. Norway took the top two spots with Thomas Helland Larsen and Even Northhug taking the victory. Sindre Bjoernestad Skar and Haavard Solaas Taugboel were second. Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov and Gleb Retivykh were third.
Up next, the athletes are off for the Christmas holidays, returning to competition with a freestyle sprint on Dec. 28 at the first stage of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.