First Classic Sprint Podium For Diggins
Olympic champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) returned to the FIS World Cup tour Wednesday, finishing third in a grueling city sprint in Drammen, Norway. It was her first ever podium in a classic sprint. Diggins remained third in the overall World Cup standings and moved up to fifth in the sprint standings. Norway swept titles with Johannes Klæbo and Maikken Kaspersen Falla taking wins.
"I’m really happy I could finally make the podium in the classic sprint," Diggins said. "My coaches and I have been working a lot on my classic. But still, I’m a bit surprised I got third today. I had again amazing skis, the technicians did a great job!"
It was a hard-fought battle for Diggins on a course that featured tight 180-degree corners and an uphill finish that played a role in nearly every heat. Diggins won her first heat to advance to semifinals. In a grueling semifinal heat, she finished strong on the uphill to advance as a lucky loser to the finals. In the championship round, Diggins found herself in a group that was gapped by the three leaders. She persevered, closing the gap on Stina Nilsson of Sweden in the final 200 meters then won a sprint to the finish for third with Russian Natalia Nepryaeva to take third.
Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was 21st with Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) 27th. Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) was the only American man in the heats, finishing 18th – a career-best sprint.
The World Cup tour now heads to Oslo for a men’s 50k mass start freestyle on Saturday with women’s 30k on Sunday. Diggins holds a 35 point lead over Finland’s Krista Parmakoski for third in the overall heading into the weekend with only the World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden to follow.