Diggins, Hamilton Win Merino Muster
The U.S. Cross Country Team, currently training at the Snow Farm in New Zealand, started its first race of the season Saturday at the 24th edition of the Merino Muster, part of the Wolrdloppet Race Series. Jessie Diggins (Stratton, Vt.) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) took the wins in the 42K race, with Katharine Ogden (Landgrove, Vt.) winning the 21k version.
“I got to ski in a pack for most of the race and it was really fun to throw in a longer race than we ever get to do in the World Cup,” Diggins after the race. “Turns out I love the long-distance efforts. The snow was fast, the course was fun, and all the volunteers did a great job!”
“We pretty much raced in a pack, Kyle, Adam, myself, and two Japanese skiers, for about 97 percent of the race,” Hamilton said. “It was great to take turns pulling and drafting, and just moving fluidly as a train out there. My skis were running really well the entire race, and I just focused on conserving energy where I could. I was really hoping that it would come down to a sprint finish in the last 0.5k, so I guess I was lucky that it did.”
U.S. Cross Country Team coach Jason Cork summed up the conditions as “super nice - sunny, around freezing, very little wind. Nice, fast grooming. In general, the pace was pretty relaxed for everyone until the end, when it ramped up."
D Team Member Katharine Ogden, racing the shorter distance said, “This was a super fun race! it was awesome to have an opportunity to put on a bib during the offseason. and, we were so lucky to have a perfect bluebird day for it!”
The Team camp continues at the Snow Farm through September 10 and includes the upcoming Winter Games NZ beginning Tuesday, Sept. 4.