Jessica Diggins of the U.S. celebrates after finishing third in the women’s 10k FIS Cross-Country World Cup freestyle race Saturday. (Getty Images/AFP-Michal Cizek)
NOVE MESTO, Czech Republic (Jan. 23, 2016) – Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S. team with a third-place finish in Saturday’s FIS World Cup 10k freestyle.
“To be less than 10 seconds out from the win in a 10k feels so great because I'm finally skiing with confidence, like I know I can win, and starting to believe that I have what it takes to podium on the World Cup,” Diggins said after scoring her second career individual World Cup podium.
Jessica Diggins skis to a place-third finish in the women 10k FIS Cross-Country World Cup freestyle race Saturday in Nove Mesto na Morave. Czech Republic. (Getty Images/AFP-Michal Cizek)
Norway’s Therese Johaug claimed another World Cup victory in a competitive women’s 10k freestyle, beating out teammate Astrid Jacobsen by 4.6 seconds. In the men’s 15k freestyle, a new face claimed the top spot on the podium, as France’s Maurice Manificat skied to victory. Norway’s Martin Sundby was second and Russia’s Sergey Usiugov was third.
Snow fell throughout the day and caused the course to become soft and slow. Diggins fought for the podium the entire race, despite the tough conditions. She started in the middle of Norway’s Jacobsen, Johaug and Heidi Weng, who were all in the mix of top spots, but Weng faded in the second lap, giving Diggins a convincing third place finish just before Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla.
“On the first lap, Heidi Weng was a bit ahead of her in the splits so it seemed like Jessie might have to settle for forth,” coach Chris Grover said. “But Heidi faded a little on the second lap and Jessie kept the hammer down.”
Astrid Uhernholdt Jacobsen (left) of Norway, Therese Johaug of Norway and Jessica Diggins of The U.S. celebrate after the women’s 10k FIS Cross-Country World Cup freestyle race Saturday. (Getty Images/AFP-Michal Cizek)
The U.S. women’s team proved their depth in the 10k freestyle race as four women finished in the top 30, including Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) in 14th, and Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) in 17th, and Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) in 28th. For the U.S. men, Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) earned World Cup points finishing 34th.
Competition continues Sunday in Nove Mesto with a 4x7.5k and 4x5k team relay.
The women’s 10k was one of the closer ladies’ podiums this season with just 9.3 seconds separating the top 3.
Norway’s Johaug has 10 World Cup victories so far this season. She needs five more wins to equal the 15 victories of Norway’s Marit Bjørgen from last season.
Sunday’s 4x5k relay team for the U.S. women includes: Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), Bjornsen, Stephen, and Diggins.
The men’s 4x7.5k relay team includes: Scott Patterson (Anchorage, AK) Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA), Hoffman, and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO).
Jessie Diggins I'm so happy with my race today! I had amazing skis and it was so exciting to have four U.S. girls in the points. I skied the course as hard as I could and kept thinking about how I wanted to ski each section and each corner.
I was excited to be skiing in a snowstorm again because it felt like real winter. To be less than 10 seconds out from the win in a 10k feels so great because I'm finally skiing with confidence, like I know I can win, and starting to believe that I have what it takes to podium on the World Cup.
Chris Grover Great racing by all of the U.S. athletes today. It was snowing all day and the track was a bit soft, and slower than it was yesterday, so it made for a grueling race.
Jessie has definitely reached another level in her racing. She was battling for the podium the entire race. On the first lap, Heidi Weng was a bit ahead of her in the splits so it seemed like Jessie might have to settle for fourth. But Heidi faded a little on the second lap and Jessie kept the hammer down.
Sadie and Liz were also really in the mix but the times were very tight. Really solid races by all of the rest of the women today as well with Rosie getting into the points and Continental Cup leader Chelsea Holmes not too far outside the top-30.
Great racing by the men as well today with Noah in the points, and Erik and Scott close behind in the top-half of an incredibly deep men’s field.