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One Stage Left: Diggins Maintains Lead in Tour de Ski Overall Standings

By Leann Bentley - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
January, 6 2024
jessie diggins
Jessie Diggins leads the pack in the 15k mass start classic in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (NordicFocus)

On the second to last race of the Tour de Ski, Jessie Diggins continued her streak of top-10 results with an eighth place finish, giving her the necessary points and time to maintain her commanding lead in the Tour de Ski overall standings. Alongside Diggins in the top 30 was Rosie Brennan in 12th, Sophia Laukli 17th and Sammy Smith in 26th. Scott Patterson was 27th. Diggins now leads the overall by 43 seconds, ahead of Sweden's Joanna Sundling going into tomorrow's final stage. 

On a remarkably bad weather day in Val di Fiemme, Italy, where rain, snow and sleet made for challenging wax conditions and overall tricky weather to race in, the athletes pushed through, with the final race looming in their minds. 

With a 15k mass start on the line, Diggins went into the race with lingering pain due to her crash in the 20k classic in Davos, Switzerland just two days prior.

"I did get pretty hurt in that crash, so I'm in pain," said Diggins, post-race. "I raced today and pushed through it. I'm really proud of myself for being able to ignore it the best I could and focus on the race - and now i'm focused on recovery." 

Off the line, the pack trudged through the classic tracks, with six laps of a hilly 2.5k loop looming. Through each lap, Diggins, Brennan and Laukli traded off positions in the lead pack, often working together to find positioning, with 18-year-old Smith continuing her strong skiing and keeping a solid pace throughout the entire 15k. 

On the final lap, movement was finally happening and going into the last hill, Diggins, Brennan and Laukli were all within the chase pack. On the final stretch, Sweden's Linn Svahn took the overall win, with Diggins in the top 10 and Brennan, Laukli and Smith not far behind.

"It was wet," said Brennan, laughing post-race. "It was very challenging conditions, and sometimes skis worked, sometimes they didn't. It was a mental battle the whole way through but I'm happy that I stayed in the front the whole time and fought the whole way."

For the men, Patterson and Zanden McMullen represented the remaining Stifel U.S. Ski Team men's team and crossed the line in 27th and 31st, respectively. Norway's Erik Valnes ultimately took the victory. Going into stage seven, Patterson sits 20th in the Tour de Ski overall standings. 

Tomorrow, the highly anticipated Final Climb is finally here, a brutal race that takes athletes once around the 2.5k course at Val di Fiemme then up the Alpe de Cermis alpine ski hill - where at points athletes are skiing up a 28% grade. In last year's final climb, Sophia Laukli, now commonly referred to as the "Uphill Queen" nabbed her first-ever podium in the event, crossing the line in third. This year, she is considered the favorite in the event.  



Sunday, Jan. 7
8:30 a.m. ET - men's 10k skate -
9:45 a.m. ET - women's 10k skate -