With Second Win In Three Stages, Jessie Diggins Moves To Top Of Tour De Ski Standings

by Chrös McDougall

Jessica Diggins takes 1st place during the COOP FIS Cross-Country Stage World Cup Women's 10 km Classic Pursuit on Jan. 5, 2021 in Toblach, Italy.


Jessie Diggins held on in a charge to the finish to win the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle mass start race Friday and take the overall lead in the Tour de Ski.

Diggins, who last year became the first American to win the prestigious multi-stage cross-country skiing event, started in the second position Friday and remained among the leaders throughout the race in Oberstdorf, Germany. Under the clear skies in the Bavarian Alps, Diggins entered the final stretch in a four-way battle for first and outsprinted the competition to cross the line in 21 minutes, 30.80 seconds.

Sweden’s Frida Karlsson, Russia’s Tatiana Sorina and Sweden’s Ebba Andersson all ended within 1.2 seconds of her.

The win was Diggins’ second in three races so far in the Tour de Ski, sending her to the top of the standings at the midway point of the six-race competition.

With a combined time of 51.44, Diggins leads Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen by 13 seconds, with Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva and Andersson also in the mix. Fellow American Julia Kern is also in the top 20, at 17th. Gus Schumacher is the top U.S. man in 27th.

One year after her historic Tour de Ski performance, when she became the first non-European to win, Diggins, of Afton, Minnesota, has gotten off to a fast start this year. She opened Tuesday with a win in the freestyle sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, then placed 16th in the next day’s 10K classic race. That left her second, behind Niskanen, in the overall standings.

Following an off day Thursday the competition moved to Oberstdorf, where skiers continue with a classic sprint on New Year’s Day.

After another off day on Jan. 2, the competition wraps up in Val di Fiemme, Italy, with a women’s 10K and men’s 15K classic mass start on Monday, followed by the famous 10K “final climb” mass start races on Tuesday.

Diggins, who along with Kikkan Randall in 2018 became the first U.S. cross-country skiers to win an Olympic gold medal, ranks third in the overall world cup standings. She’s expected to be a medal contender again when the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 kick off in February.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.