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Diggins Digs Deep to Finish Sixth in Tour de Ski

By Tom Horrocks
January, 6 2019
Jessie Diggins climbs the final stretch in stage 7 of the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Sunday. (Getty Images/Action Plus - Pierre Teyssot)

Jessie Diggin (Afton, Minn.) dug deep into the pain cave and wrapped up the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in sixth overall following the brutal 7th stage climb up the famed Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme - well known to be the toughest race of the entire season.

“Today, like yesterday, my body was feeling run down and incredibly tired,” Diggins said after finishing sixth in the stage that averaged 12-percent, with a few pitches reaching 28-percent. “But I was proud of my effort and for never giving up, fighting my way up that crazy mountain! It’s really hard to describe the bone-deep tired feeling you get when you’ve been pushing your body so hard for so long, and it’s insane how painful it is when you finally reach the top of the final climb. It’s also one of the most satisfying feelings in the world because you know you’ve just done something so amazingly hard.”

After winning the 6th stage of the Tour de Ski on Saturday, Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg held a 53-second lead over Russian Natalia Nepryaeva heading into the final stage. Østberg held off Nepryaeva for the stage win to secure the overall Tour de Ski title. Russia’s Anastasia Sedova was third.

Competing in seven races over a nine-day stretch is a true athletic achievement and the rewards list goes well beyond just finishing. For Diggins, the hard work she put in to reach this point of the season is not only mentally satisfying but physically she packed her bank of fitness, which will pay dividends the rest of the season.

“What I really wanted to get out of the Tour in the big picture was the fitness boost that I get every year from doing something so incredibly hard and then resting and recovering well,’ she said. “So for the next 13 days, my focus will be on resting up, enjoying my time with my family in Seefeld, and then preparing for Otepää (Estonia). I’m skipping Dresden (Germany) to make sure I absorb all the Tour races well, but I’m excited for the rest of the season, and super excited to cheer on our sprinters!”

Mentally, Diggins leaves the Tour satisfied with everything she left out on the track.

“The older I get, the easier it is to remember to look at the big picture and remember that what makes a “good” race is determined by factors you don’t see on the results board,” Diggins said. “And for me, I was really proud of this tour because I had a lot of “good” races where I raced with grit, determination, and fought like crazy to do the very best I could with what I had in my body.”

In the men’s race, Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo won the 7th stage to secure the overall title and the record as the youngest Tour de Ski winner in history. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov finished second and Norway's Simen Hegstad Krüger was third. Ben Lustgarten was the only American still in the Tour finishing all seven stages.

Men’s 9k hill climb
Women’s 9k hill climb

Men’s Tour de Ski - through 7 of 7 stages
Women’s Tour de Ski - through 7 of 7 stages