Diggins Wins in Östersund, Takes Home 16th Career Victory
In what many would say is Jessie Diggins' best event, the reigning 10k skate world champion took home her 16th career victory in today's 10k in Östersund, Sweden - her second victory of the 2023-24 season and 50th career World Cup podium. Rosie Brennan and Sophia Laukli finished within the top 10 in fifth and eighth, respectively.
It was another landmark weekend for the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, with two individual podiums, over a dozen athletes in the top 30 and career bests across the board. Going into weekend four of racing, Diggins continues to lead the World Cup overall with Brennan close behind in second. Diggins also leads the distance overall; Brennan is third and Laukli is 16th.
Sunday's 10k skate featured a technical three-lap course in snowy and cold conditions. The men started the day with the individual start format, sending an athlete off the line every 15 seconds. Coming off the energy and momentum of yesterday's historic day, the U.S. sent three into the top 30: Johnny Hagenbuch in 13th, Gus Schumacher in 21st and Zanden McMullen in 28th. Hagenbuch, who had a standout race, secured his career-best result, breaking through to the top 20; McMullen also had a career-best day, besting his 28th place from earlier this season in the Ruka World Cup 20k skate.
"Today’s race felt great - a continuation of the form that started to come around in the relay in Gällivare," said Hagenbuch. "I executed my pacing really well, and it’s very gratifying to have a such a good result also! Hopefully I’ll be able to carry this momentum into Trondheim, U.S. Nationals and the rest of the season through NCAAs."
For the women, it was nearly a repeat of last weekend, where Diggins won the 10k skate by 23.1 seconds. This time, she won by 23 seconds - an incredible margin for the shorter of the distance races on the circuit. Across every time check on course, Diggins was in the lead, with Brennan close behind. It was a course that played to the strength of the Americans - gradual gliding sections, technical corners and working descents. Alongside Diggins, Brennan and Laukli in the top 30 was Julia Kern, who ended the day in 29th.
At the end of the day, Diggins credited her win "to the boys," mentioning in the post-race live interview that "she wanted to ski as fast as JC (Schoonmaker)," and that her race today was for the men's team, as well as shouting out to the wax technicians for providing the entire team with outstanding skis for the third weekend in a row.
Next up, the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team will travel to Trondheim, Norway for the final race weekend of period one before taking a break for the holidays.