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First Career Podium for Schoonmaker in Östersund; Historic Day for U.S. Men

By Leann Bentley - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
December, 9 2023
Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
JC Schoonmaker celebrates with the team, including athletes, coaches, wax techs and more at the Östersund World Cup. (NordicFocus).

History was made in U.S. men’s cross country skiing, with JC Schoonmaker taking his first career World Cup podium in the Östersund, Sweden sprint and Stifel U.S. Ski Team teammate Ben Ogden just behind him in fourth place. On the women’s side, Rosie Brennan and Jessie Diggins also finished at the top in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Diggins is now first in the overall and Brennan is third.

History in the Sprints

The Östersund sprint course was longer than a typical sprint, taking athletes over three minutes to complete the track. The snow was tricky, with new snow falling, glazed-over tracks and cold temperatures. Yet, despite the tough conditions to wax for, the wax technicians team nailed the American skis and the athletes capitalized. After the qualification round, where the top 30 times advanced, three American women and two men advanced to the heats: Diggins, Brennan, Julia Kern, Schoonmaker and Ogden. 

In the men’s heats, where the top two finishers advance, Ogden handily won his quarterfinal while Schoonmaker was second. The semis was a similar story with Ogden winning and Schoonmaker scoring second. It was the first time that Ogden and Schoonmaker had advanced to the sprint final in their careers, showing that the next generation of U.S. men’s skiing is here. 

In the final, Ogden and Schoonmaker were surrounded by four Norwegians, including the ultimate winner of the race, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo. It was a tight race from start to finish, with various leaders going stride for stride on the long Östersund track. In the final stretch, around the 180-degree final turn, Schoonmaker was hanging onto the lead pack and crossed the finish line in third, landing himself on a World Cup podium for the first time in his career. Ogden was only seconds behind, crossing the finish in fourth. With this result, Ogden is now third in the overall World Cup sprint standings; Schoonmaker is seventh. 

“This is the best team in the world and my heart is full knowing I get to be a part of it!” said Schoonmaker, post-race. Teammate Luke Jager added, “I tell myself nothing else in the world matters when your team is doing what they’re doing right now! I felt like I was watching the Moon Landing live today during the men’s final. And Jessie and Rosie just causally both being top three in the overall?! These people show us over and over again that if you do your best every day and you are nice to everyone, good things will happen.”

Simi Hamilton was the last U.S. man to stand on a World Cup podium in 2017. 

For the women, Diggins and Brennan did it again, both landing in the top five and furthering themselves from the field in the overall standings. Similar to the men’s race, Brennan and Diggins both led their quarterfinals, easily making their way into the semis. In the semifinal, Brennan finished fourth, which typically results in an end to the race day, yet, based on Brennan’s time, she advanced to the final. Diggins won her semifinal, punching herself a ticket to the final alongside Brennan. In the last race of the day, Emma Ribom of Sweden ultimately won, but Brennan and Diggins crossed the line in fourth and fifth, showcasing their ability to be podium contenders in every single race they enter. Brennan’s fourth place also marks her best-ever classic sprint result. 

When asked about post-race feelings, the focus of Diggins was solely on the men. “When a person succeeds on our team, it feels like everyone’s success,” said Diggins. “We really do celebrate that. When JC crushed the sprint today, it felt like the whole team was part of that moment.”

The momentum of the U.S. team continues to tomorrow in the 10k skate. 


Women’s sprint
Men’s sprint