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Ogden Secures First Career Podium in Stage One of Tour de Ski

By Leann Bentley - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
December, 30 2023
Ben Ogden
Ben Ogden celebrates on the podium for the first time in his career. (NordicFocus)

On the first stage of the 2023-24 Tour de Ski, under the sunset over the Dolomites mountain range, Ben Ogden went on to secure his first career podium in the Toblach skate sprint.

Alongside Ogden, Jessie Diggins finished in the top 10 in ninth place.

The Tour de Ski has officially started, with hundreds of athletes lining up at the start line to kick off the first stage with a skate sprint in the city of Toblach, Italy. As the Tour de Ski rules state, an athlete is eliminated from the Tour if they do not start a race, and in today's sprint, the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team showed up strong, with six Americans advancing to the sprint heats, a feat not easily done. 

Today was Ogden's day. Coming off a strong period one in Scandinavia, Ogden was restless to get the Tour started, starting off with his preferred race style - a sprint. In the qualification round, he was in a good position, crossing the line in eighth place. Alongside him going into the heats were teammates Kevin Bolger and Gus Schumacher. 

Into the rounds, Ogden kept the momentum going all the way through to the final. Towards the end of the heats, the snow was getting choppier and messier by the second, but that did not stop Ogden from pushing it around every corner, each downhill and up the steep uphills (even the one that goes over a building) to snag third place.

"This was really fun. I just feel like I was able to execute every heat and it worked well for me. I couldn't believe I was in that position at the finish line and I just thought to myself that I had what it takes to just land on the podium," Ogden said, seconds after spraying his celebratory champagne over his whole team. "This is a crazy feeling. A fantastic race to start the tour after a hard summer and a hectic start to the season. I'm really proud of myself for today."

Ogden's hard summer references his father John Ogden, who passed away after a decade-long battle with cancer. John Ogden was beloved in the cross country world, having coached for many years and passionately cheered on his children - Ben and former U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athlete Katharine - as they raced throughout their careers.

Ogden had shown his speed last season on the World Cup, securing six top-10 results and coming away from the season with the U23 green bib, distinguishing him as the fastest male athlete under the age of 23 on the circuit. This season, he was just off the podium in fourth place in Östersund, while his teammate JC Schoonmaker became the first American man to step on a World Cup podium since 2017. With Ogden's podium in Toblach, it marks the first time two different American men have been on the podium in the same season since 1983 (Tim Caldwell and Bill Koch).

Rounding out the men's race, Schumacher and Bolger did not punch their ticket to the final, but it was a highlight for Schumacher, who walked away with the best sprint result of his career in 18th. Bolger was 24th.

For the women, Diggins led the way, landing in the top 10 in ninth place, with teammate Julia Kern right behind in 11th. Rosie Brennan was 27th. In the qualifications, Diggins qualified second, Kern was sixth and Brennan 14th. The day came to a close for Brennan in the quarterfinals, but her focus is now on her favorite race, the 10k classic. For the World Cup overall leader Diggins, a top 10 is a race to celebrate and for Kern, an 11th is added to her impressive World Cup resume. 

Sammy Smith, Novie McCabe, Sophia Laukli, Zanden McMullen and Scott Patterson did not qualify through to the heats, and will now look to Sunday's race.

Tomorrow, the team is back in Toblach for the second stage of the Tour, the 10k classic. Watch LIVE on, with women starting at 6:15 a.m. ET and men at 9 a.m. ET. 

Women's sprint
Men's sprint