Record finish for the U.S. women's relay team including Jessie Diggins, Liz Stephen, Ida Sargent and Holly Brooks. (Kikkan Randall photo)
NOVE MESTO, Czech Republic (Feb. 12) - A strong team effort, combined with a stunning anchor leg by Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), sent the U.S. women into fifth in a 4x5k classic technique relay at the FIS Cross Country World Cup in Nove Mesto. It is the best U.S. women's World Cup distance relay finish ever. The performance came without the services of team leader Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who sat out the weekend to rest a cold. Norway took the top spots for the women and men.
The U.S. women shook off a tough day Saturday to score the best World Cup women's distance relay finish in U.S. history taking fifth Sunday in the 4x5k relay as Norway took the win.
Holly Brooks (Anchorage) led off, handing to Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT), then Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) with Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) anchoring with a strong team performance by all four athletes.
Diggins matched up with Sweden's Charlotte Kalla on the anchor and had the fastest leg time.
Norway also won the men's relay with the USA 12th.
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) sat out the weekend resting a cold and preparing for next weekend's final skate sprint in Poland.
QUOTES Jessie Diggins I was so incredibly proud of our team today - racers, athletes cheering, coaches, wax techs. Everyone was a little tired after yesterday and it was so amazing how everyone just woke up ready to give this race everything they had. My Salomon skis were unreal today - our team nailed it and I'm positive we had the fastest boards of the day!
One of the benefits of being anchor leg is only having to do one tag off, which is always good news for me. As soon as Liz (Stephen) came through the tag zone and I realized I was right behind (Sweden's Charlotte) Kalla. I threw my plans of "skiing my own race" out the window and proceeded to glue myself to Kalla. It was great to ski with her and though I couldn't get around her in time to pull a great sprint at the end, I'm psyched out of my mind to have been in a photo finish with Charlotte Kalla!
The girls had fun dressing in knee-high striped USA socks and putting on some USA face paint. We really had fun out there today as a team, and it definitely showed.
Ida Sargent We are all pretty psyched here tonight! Yesterday was a hard day for everyone so I think it says a lot about the atmosphere on our team that we were quickly able to rebound for today's race.
We also had the most fun out there today. We were fired up with glitter, face paint, knee high red, white, and blue socks and a lot of positive energy. The course was really fun with some hard climbs and fast, twisty downhills. We had awesome skis so a huge thanks to our techs and coaches!
This was my first time skiing the second leg and I really liked it. There was a little more room to ski your own race than the first leg, which I have done in the last two World Cup relays.
Holly had a great leg and tagged me off in eighth just behind a pack of girls. I sprinted to catch them and then skied with that pack for the first leg and then I was feeling good so I tried to work my way up and pass a few ladies on the second lap. Then I had a lot of fun watching Liz and Jessie kick butt and finish strong!
Holly Brooks I'm ecstatic about our team performance, especially given the fact that we didn't have one of our strongest teammates on board. Our fifth place finish today goes to show the depth of our team right now.
I am personally very satisfied with my leg today. After having to drop out of the race yesterday, I was worried and anxious about what kind of performance I would be able to deliver. It's one thing to let yourself down but it's a completely different thing to let down the rest of a relay team! My goal today was to stay in contact with the other teams and luckily, I was able to do it.
My body held together for the day but I was also helped by some great skis from the wax techs - kudos to them!
Matt Whitcomb, World Cup Women’s Head Coach Today was a great rebound from Saturday and an entirely different level of energy put forth by the team. To be able to sit Kikkan today as she recovers from her cold and still put together a result like this is a good snapshot of the strength of these ladies. We are moving forward with big visions for the next relay. And we’re leaving the weekend with a healthy team.