Diggins, Kern Team Up and Win Bronze at Worlds
Jessie Diggins and Julia Kern teamed up for the freestyle team sprint at World Championships and took home the bronze medal. With new snow coating the Julian Alps, both men and women put forward their fastest sprinters for the team sprint. On the same 1.4km course from the classic sprint two days prior, today’s race featured a qualification round and 3x1.4km final round. With over 34 teams in the qualification for the men and 26 for the women, both athletes' qualifying times combined together decided the 15 teams that would move onto the final.
Thorough the qualification round, the women representing the red, white and blue came out on top, qualifying first with their combined time. Diggins and Kern, both feeling strong and ready, put the pieces together and had forward momentum with their number one spot for the afternoon race. For the men, Ben Ogden and JC Schoonmaker teamed up. Earlier in the week, Schoonmaker was top ten in the 1.4km classic sprint, finishing the day in ninth place - teamed up, the young but strong duo skied a fast and technically sound sprint race and ended the qualifications within the top three.
With thousands of fans once again filling the grand stands on all sides of the stadium, the atmosphere was filled with cheers that could be heard miles away. The course was slow at the start but the more athletes skied over the track, the faster it became. When it came to race time, everyone was ready. With qualifications deciding the 15 teams moving onto the final, the U.S. teams were a definite threat.
Diggins and Kern led the final race until the last lap. With both women skiing three laps of the 1.4km lap, the strategy was to stay out of trouble, ski smart and fast and compete for your team and your relay-mate. “I really truly feel like we earned a medal,” said Diggins. “It’s not like we lost a gold, rather we earned a bronze! We earned the right to be proud of a really hard race and even if there was no medal we went out there and prepared and supported each other and believed and skied a good, hard, honest race and that is what makes me proud!”
For Kern, this was her first-ever World Championships podium.
“It’s really exciting (bringing home a medal to the United States),” said Kern. “I think it is really exciting. I think we are growing the sport the best we can in the U.S. and we hope that this inspires people back home and keeps developing our sport in the U.S. to become bigger and bigger!”
On the 10 year anniversary of the team sprint medal in Val di Fiemme, the U.S. women put the pieces together to bring home another team sprint medal and this time, with Kern and Diggins.
“I love team sprinting,” said Diggins. “Any time you race for the team as a whole, you really bring your best and that is what we did today. It was really special.”