Diggins Second, Maubet Bjornsen Eighth in Lillehammer Skiathlon
Jessie Diggins finished second in the 15k skiathlon, tying a career-best World Cup skiathlon result, to lead the Davis U.S. Cross Country National Team Program in Lillehammer, Norway, Sunday. Sadie Maubet Bjornsen was eighth, and Rosie Brennan was 16th.
“I felt great today, and was listening to my body and adjusting my pacing the whole way,” Jessie said. “It feels awesome to know I’m in good shape and that my technique is continuing to improve!”
Norway’s Therese Johaug took the victory, pulling away from the field at the 2k mark on the opening classic leg and leaving a huge pack of racers to chase her down. “It was a blistering pace set from the start,” noted Sadie. “Lillehammer is a particularly hard course because the entire course is climbing...leaving little opportunity to catch your breath.”
Jessie led the chase group for most of the classic leg, and at the 7.5k transition to freestyle she was second, Sadie was 13th and Rosie was 20th. “I was struggling in the classic, just not finding the relaxed good feelings you want,” Rosie said. “I couldn't hang with the front group, which I was disappointed by, but after I switched to skate, I found better feelings and was able to pick some people off.”
Out of the transition, Jessie continued to lead the chase with Norway’s Heidi Weng close behind. “I felt really strong in the classic part so I started to push the pace a bit before the transition, and then Heidi and I skied the skate half together, which was really awesome,” Jessie said. “It’s so fun to ski with someone who understands that when we both exchange leads and push each other we can create a good gap, and Heidi and I pushed each other to a much better race today!”
Heading up the final climb with less than one kilometer remaining, Jessie put in a huge effort to distance herself from Weng and glided in for second, with Weng rounding out the podium in third. “On the last long climb I was feeling good enough to try to make a move, so I went for it and got enough of a gap to secure second place,” Jessie added.
Both Sadie and Rosie skied strong freestyle legs to move up a few places on the final climbs.
“I generally prefer classic as opposed to skate, but I had new and fun feelings today. Not only did I enjoy the skate portion more, but I felt really strong climbing,” Sadie said. “I am walking away from today with new confidence, and excitement. To finish the day within sight of the podium fight on a less than perfect day is a good sign. Kudos to Jessie today for an inspiring performance!”
“This course is one of the hardest on the circuit and you really have to be on your A-game to pull of good things here,” Rosie added. “I wasn't quite there, but I am satisfied with the result.”
In the World Cup overall standings, Jessie moved up to fourth with Sadie fifth. Rosie is 11th overall. The U.S. women have an opportunity to climb higher in the overall World Cup standings with the team sprint on Sunday.
“Tomorrow is the 4x5km relay, which our team is obviously really looking forward to,” Sadie said. “We aren't sure what the lineup will look like, but you can guarantee socks, face paint, and a group of girls who are willing to dig deeper than ever!”
In the men’s 30k skiathlon, David Norris was the top American in 34th. Erik Bjornsen was 39th.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Sunday, Dec. 8
4:05 a.m. - Women’s 4x5k relay, Lillehammer, NOR - Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. - Men’s 4x5k relay, Lillehammer, NOR - Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. - Women’s 4x5k relay, Lillehammer, NOR - Olympic Channel*
7:00 p.m. - Women’s 4x5k relay, Lillehammer, NOR - NBCSN*
Note: All televised events to stream across NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app
Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.