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Jessie Diggins clinches historic World Cup overall title

Jessie Diggins

TOBLACH HOCHPUSTERTAL, ITALY - JANUARY 05: Jessie Diggins of USA celebrates after winning the Women’s 10km F at the FIS Tour De Ski Toblach at on January 5, 2021 in Toblach Hochpustertal, Italy. (Photo by Federico Modica/NordicFocus/Getty Images)

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Jessie Diggins is the second American -- and first American woman -- to win the biggest annual prize in cross-country skiing, the World Cup overall title.

Diggins recently clinched when it was decided that the World Cup Finals will not be held next week.

The Finals were originally to be in Beijing, but in the autumn it was announced that no international skiing and snowboarding events would be held at 2022 Winter Olympic venues this season. The Finals were rescheduled for Lillehammer, Norway, then canceled again last month. The International Ski Federation left open the possibility that the Finals could be rescheduled at a different location until recently.

Diggins, who in 2018 with now-retired Kikkan Randall won the U.S.’ first Olympic cross-country skiing title, leads the overall standings by 342 points with two races left on Saturday and Sunday. A race winner gets 100 points, so it’s mathematically impossible for Diggins to be passed.

ON HER TURF: Diggins on body image education, why sports journalism needs more women

Diggins joins Bill Koch as the only Americans to win a World Cup overall title. Koch did so in 1982, six years after he won the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal (silver) that remained the lone American podium finish until Diggins and Randall took the team sprint in PyeongChang.

The World Cup overall takes results from an entire season of competitions across different distances and techniques.

“It’s always been a big dream of mine to be able to show up ready to play, no matter what it is: distance, sprint, classic [style], skate [style], skiathlon,” Diggins, 29, said last month. “Whatever it is, I want to show up and be ready to give it my best fight. I’m finally getting to that place in my career.”

Diggins earned a pair of fourth-place finishes at the recently completed world championships -- in the 10km freestyle and as part of the relay.

Earlier this season, she became the first American to win the Tour de Ski, a Tour de France-like stage race. Norway’s best skiers skipped that event (and other early season races), but Diggins later beat them at a World Cup in January.

In all, Diggins won four times on the World Cup among nine total podiums this season. She is the first non-Norwegian woman to win the World Cup overall since Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won her fourth crown in 2013.

Diggins finished second in the World Cup overall standings in the 2017-18 season.

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