Diggins Sweeps SuperTour Finals
Olympic champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) of Stratton Mountain School made it a clean sweep at the SuperTour Finals in Craftsbury Common, Vt. On Tuesday. Diggins won the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championship 30k classic in a sprint to the finish victory over Alaska Pacific University Nordic Center’s Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.). It was Diggins’ seventh national title. APU’s Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) took the bronze.
Diggins, Bjornsen and Stratton’s Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) packed up early on in the season finale, skiing together from the start. On the third lap, Caldwell dropped back leaving Diggins and Bjornsen to battle for the second half of the race. Diggins took the win at the line by four-tenths of a second over Bjornsen.
“To get to race a 30k with Sadie out there today was just amazing, we had so much fun pushing each other,” said Diggins. “We didn’t really talk about it but we were going to keep pushing each other and duke it out at the end. Pushing each other is how we race fastest and we waited until the final few k’s to drop the hammer.”
Bjornsen concurred, “It was really fun out there today,” she said. “Jessie and I were switching the lead and hurting each other. It has been so fun to chase after her and it has brought me to a higher level. Today I was trying to outdo her and it came down to the line there and she got the win.”
The race was a bit bittersweet as teammates bid farewell to longtime ski racing colleagues Randall and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, Vt.).
“For the end of my career, I was hoping to go out on a high note and feel like I really raced hard,” said Randall, who took the bronze by a second over Caldwell. “I really wasn’t sure we were going to catch Sophie and she was right on my tails coming into the finish line. She is a championship sprinter and I wasn’t going to give an inch until we crossed the line.”
There were hugs all around for Stephen, who finished seventh. The longtime spiritual leader of the team, Stephen made her mark on the World Cup as one of the best hill climbers in the history of the Tour de Ski, as well as winning three U.S. titles.
“Wow, my last race, I’m out of tears,” she said. “You just realize that you have grown up with these girls which makes me feel like somewhere between and big sister and a mom. I am so lucky to have been part of this group and I will miss these days a lot in the future.”
Across the board, the athletes were flying high on the atmosphere and quality of races at Craftsbury. “I can’t remember having this much fun at Spring Series and Craftsbury does such a great job,” said Bjornsen. “I haven’t had great classic skiing like that all season.”
The Spring Series wraps up with the men’s 50k national championship on Wednesday. The live streaming broadcast begins at 8:45 a.m. EDT with racing at 9:00 a.m.