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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Diggins Fourth To Lead Four Americans Into Top 23 at World Champs 10k

By Tom Horrocks
March, 2 2021
Jessie Diggins
Jessie Diggins battled under the warm sun in Thursday's 10k freestyle to finish fourth at the 2021 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Tom Horrocks)

Jessie Diggins finished just off the podium in fourth to lead four of her Davis U.S. Cross Country Team teammates into the top 23 in Tuesday’s individual start 10k freestyle at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.

On a warm day with ample sunshine, little wind, and temperature approaching 60 degrees, racers were treated to two salted 5k loops that despite the warm sunshine, remained fast and firm for the 88 starters. 

“It’s no secret that I really struggle and these are not my temperatures, I’m more of a Minnesota winter athlete,” said Diggins, who was just 5.1 seconds off the podium on a course that featured numerous climbs baked by the warm sunshine. 

“My goal for today was to be the person who just gives the most,” she added. “I’ve been visualizing this course for weeks and I have practiced in my mind how I wanted to ski it, and I went out there and just skied hard, and I’m so proud of that because it is the only thing you can control. I never gave up, I kept pushing, even when I felt like I was going to fold in half and pass out.”

Fortunately, the course conditions did hold firm, which provided Sadie Maubet Bjornsen an opportunity to grind her way up the power climbs for an 11th-place finish. “The snow was really good, I was impressed,” Maubet Bjornsen said. “On a (hot day) like this...I’m really stoked that they salted (the course), and it made it a little bit more like ski racing. Granted, it was not the kind of firm snow that I love, but it could have been so much worse.”

Norway’s Therese Johaug took the gold by 54 seconds over Sweden’s Frida Karlsson in second and Sweden’s Ebba Andersson in third at 1:06.9 off the gold-medal pace. Rosie Brennan was 17th, and Sophia Laukliracing in her first World Championshipswas 23rd.

“I was very happy with how it went, it felt good,” Laukli said following her race in which she sported a sleeveless race suit and aimed to better her 25th-place result from Saturday’s skiathlon. “I definitely have not raced in this heat for quite a while, so that was kind of a shocker, but I felt good.”

Brennan crushed the first 5k loop but admitted that she felt pretty gassed down the stretch. “It was tough,” she said. “I started really well and things were going fine, and then, I don’t know, slowly the wheels came off and I didn’t have the body or the brain that I had hoped for, so it was just kind of a brutal battle to the end.”

Brennan has proved many times this season that a quick start followed by settling into her pace has led to some great results. “On a good day, I could have held it," she said. "I did plan to go out relatively hard and maybe it was just a little much with the heat and the body that I have right now, but it was a solid 5k, so hopefully, I can turn it around for the 5k in the (team) relay.”

Up next, the men’s will compete in an individual start 15k freestyle Wednesday with Scott Patterson, David Norris, Simi Hamilton, and Gus Schumacher starting for the U.S. Team. Thursday, the women’s 4x5k team relay takes center stage, followed by the men’s 4x10k relay Friday.

RESULTS
Women’s individual start freestyle 10k

HOW TO WATCH
Wednesday, March 3
7:15 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Men’s 15k freestyle - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock

Thursday, March 4
7:15 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Women’s 4x5k relay - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock

Friday, March 5
7:15 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Men’s 4x7.5k relay - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock

Saturday, March 6
6:30 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Women’s 30k classic mass start - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock

Sunday, March 7
7:00 a.m. FIS World Cross Country Championships Men’s 50k classic mass start - LIVE, Oberstdorf, GER, Streaming Peacock