Brennan, Diggins Go Two-Three in Stage Five of Tour de Ski
In what many would say was one of the most eventful races in World Cup cross country skiing history, the race could have been anyone’s up until the last kilometer. At the end of the day, two Americans were on the podium - Rosie Brennan in second and Jessie Diggins in third. Every single starting American landed in the top 30.
With snow accumulating quickly, it made for a complicated kick wax situation, but on the start line, all athletes pushed on the two-lap 20k course. With the high altitude of Davos and limited visibility because of the snow, it made for a fascinating race that kept the fans on the edge of their seat until the bitter end.
Racers were seeded at the start according to their qualifying times in Wednesday’s sprint – minus the bonus time accumulated from the final results, which meant Diggins was not leading off the line. Yet, fresh off a podium result in the skate sprint the night before, Diggins was once again back in the top three - notching her 54th career World Cup podium and fourth podium of the Tour de Ski in the process. Brennan was also back on the podium in second, putting a gutsy and tactical race together. It was Brennan's 11th career podium, and nearly remade the Tour de Ski race from a year ago when Brennan and Diggins were on the podium together in the 20k skate.
In the first lap, the pack was tight together through the long gradual climbs, with limited spots that allowed movement from the line. Due to the challenging wax conditions, all countries were trying something different - some using kick wax and some not - but in the end, the Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes put all the pieces together to make it work. At the finish, Brennan was just 0.8 seconds back with Diggins overcoming an early fall and pushing through the pain to cross the line in third.
Sophia Laukli, Novie McCabe and Sammy Smith were also in the top 30, led by McCabe in 19th, Laukli in 25th and Smith in 28th, respectively.
For the men, the race seemed like it was on an entirely different day. With the sun shining, the temperatures consistently climbing, making it the Davos World Cup scene so many fans have come to love.
Scott Patterson and Zanden McMullen were the only ones to kick off the start line. Over the two laps, with endless movement and variable speeds, this race proved to be just as exciting as the women’s just an hour before. With strong double pole, tactical moves on the steep climbs, Patterson crossed the line first in 25th with McMullen not far behind in 28th.
Looking ahead to the last two stages in Val di Fiemme, Diggins continues to lead the overall, putting herself in a solid position going into the final two races, with Brennan back in the top 10.
The Tour de Ski now packs up for Val di Fiemme, Italy for two final races, starting with a 15k classic mass start.