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Classic Sprint Fourth for Diggins

By Tom Kelly
January, 20 2018
Jessie Diggins
Jessie Diggins makes a move in the opening heat of the Planica classic sprint.

Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) powered through a twisty turn sprint course at the base of the towering ski jumps in Planica, Slovenia to finish fourth in a classic sprint World Cup. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took the women’s win.

Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo took the men’s win with Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) 19th and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, Vt.) 20th.

Diggins, who qualified 19th, advanced from the opening heat on a lucky loser spot, then finished second in the semi finals to advance to the championship round.

In the finals heat, Norway’s Kathrine Rolsted Harsem, the fastest qualifier on the day, took the early lead with teammate Mika Caspersen Falla on her heels and Nilsson behind. The trio built a gap on Diggins, who held her own against the chasing pack. In the final stretch, Nilsson powered past the Norwegians for the win.

"This course was new to me but I love it,” said Diggins. “It’s a really hard one with some tight corners and a fast finishing stretch, and it’s an exciting one to ski!”

The Planica sprint course starts with a downhill then winds its way back up a series of bridges and tight switchback corners with a long finishing stretch that created some great classic ski racing sprints.

“I’m really happy with where my classic skiing is at this season,” said Diggins. The Olympic sprint in PyeongChang will be classic. “I’ve made the finals of every sprint I’ve qualified for this season which was a big goal of mine - to get better with my consistency in making it through rounds.”

Weather made things interesting as the course was set in the shadows of the towering peaks along the Slovenian-Austrian border. “The course was changing out there today as the sun came over the mountains and warmed up the tracks, so our wax techs were working hard all day to keep up with the changing kick,” she said. “But I was really happy with how we worked together and had great communication, and I felt like I was able to go out and hammer my hardest.” 

Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) made semi finals on a lucky loser spot and finished ninth. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) got boxed out in her early quarter final heat and ended up 21st. Ida Sargent (Orleans, Vt.) was 23rd.

Bjornsen was in a good position in her quarter final before she got caught in traffic with German skier Sandra Ringwald tangling with her and bring Bjornsen down. It was too late in the heat to make up the time.

“Some days you make your luck and some days you find some bad luck,” said Bjornsen. “I have had a couple moments in the past few races that I have found some bad luck, and discovered myself on the ground, but I am ready to start making my own luck again.”

Bjornsen will sit out tomorrow’s 10k classic to continue her recovery from the Tour de Ski.

A men’s 15k and women’s 10k classic are scheduled in Planica on Sunday. Olympic selection for cross country is now closed. The full team announcement will be made later next week.

Men’s Classic Sprint
Women’s Classic Sprint