Jessie Diggins skis to finish fifth in the seven-stage Tour de Ski. (Getty Images-Nils Petter Nilsson)
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Jan. 8, 2017) - In an aggressive climb up Alpe Cermis, American Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) matched the U.S. best mark of fifth in the seven-stage Tour de Ski. In dramatic fashion, Norway’s Heidi Weng skied the fastest time of the day to surpass Tour leader Stina Nilsson of Sweden on the first segment of the climb to take her first Tour win.
Nilsson, who had dominated the Tour winning three of the previous six stages, also ceded ground to Finland’s Krista Parmakoski, who finished second, and nearly fell off the podium before taking a 10-second margin over Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway.
At one point nearing the end of the towering climb up the alpine ski hill in Val di Fiemme, Diggins was within about eight seconds of fourth.
Liz Stephen skates to the second-fastest time in the final stage. (Getty Images-Nils Petter Nilsson)
Her fifth place matched the finish mark set by teammate Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) in 2015. Stephen, meanwhile, also had a strong day moving from 19th to finish 14th - skiing the second-fastest time of day up Alpe Cermis behind Weng, the third time in her career she has been second fastest.
"Today I was really happy with my pacing," said Diggins. "I tried to catch Ingvild and didn’t quite get there but to have my best Tour de Ski finish ever made it a great feeling at the top of the mountain!"
It was Diggins' fifth Tour and fourth finish, progressing from 21st in 2013 up to 13th in 2014, then 10th last year and now up to fifth.
The Tour finishers will take a few days break before gathering with the rest of the team for a training camp in nearby Seiser Alm.
"I’ve been looking forward to Seiser Alm for a long time," said Diggins. "I love that place and I fully intend to go sledding every day!"
The World Cup returns next weekend with a freestyle sprint and distance race in the Tour town of Toblach, Italy.
Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) finished fifth in the seven-stage Tour de Ski to match the American record held by Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) from 2015.
Norwegian Heidi Weng came from behind to win her first Tour de Ski title.
Liz Stephen posted the second-fastest time of day up Alpe Cermis behind Weng.
Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) led the U.S. men in 26th.
Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT) was 28th for her best Tour finish.