Diggins Wins Overall Tour de Ski; Laukli Wins First World Cup at Alpe Cermis
On a historic day for the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team at the final stage of the Tour de Ski, Jessie Diggins clinched her second overall Tour de Ski victory and Sophia Laukli won her first ever World Cup on the famed Alpe Cermis hill climb and is now the youngest American to ever win a cross country individual World Cup.
After six stages of races, the athletes were drained, but the last six athletes on the Stifel U.S. Ski Team left in the stage race lined up on the start line to finish out the 2023-24 Tour de Ski. The final stage was a mass start, where all the athletes left in the tour are off the line at once. Off the start line, everyone took a lap around the previous day's 2.5k course, then on a windy path to the start of the infamous climb, which concludes with 4 kilometers straight up an alpine ski mountain. The hill has an average gradient of nearly 12% and peaks with a gradient of 28%.
Diggins led the overall by 43 seconds after the last stage in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and attacked, but two-time Tour de Ski winner Heidi Weng of Norway threatened and pushed the pace. Diggins used everything she had to maintain her overall lead and cross the finish line in sixth, winning the overall by 31.6 seconds. Weng was second in the overall while Kertuu Niskanen of Finland finished third.
But it was Laukli who had the glory of the World Cup stage win. Even with a fall, she powered past her competitors to win easily—barely looking winded as she crossed the finish line. Laukli, this summer’s winner of the overall Golden Trail World Series trail running series, excels at hill climbs and had her first podium in 2023 at the same venue. It is the first time an American has won the Final Climb.
“I don’t think I’ve let it fully sink in,” said Laukli. “It feels insanely good. It’s super fun to have my first victory, but also have one of the best races of my life—feelings-wise and tactics-wise. Obviously I’ve had the most success in this race, but it’s just really motivating for the rest of the season and future seasons—and in more than just the hill climb. I don’t think I could be more motivated for skiing in general.”
Behind Laukli, Weng was second and Delphine Claudel of France third. On the Stifel U.S. Ski Team, Rosie Brennan was 12th in the climb and Sammy Smith was 23rd. Brennan also finished 12th in the overall standings, while Laukli was 14th and Smith 26th.
On the men’s side, Zanden McMullen was 36th in the hill climb and Scott Patterson was 42nd.
Jules Lapierre of France won the stage, with Friedrich Moch of Germany second and Hugo Lapalus of France third. Harald Oestberg Amundsen of Norway won the overall Tour de Ski with Friedrich Moch of Germany in second and Lapalus in third.