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Jessie Diggins breaks U.S. record for World Cup cross-country ski wins, contacts freeze

Jessie Diggins

LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY - DECEMBER 2: Jessie Diggins from USA takes 1st place during the FIS Cross Country World Cup Men’s and Women’s 10 km individual on December 2, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo by Millo Moravski/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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Jessie Diggins broke the U.S. record with her 14th career individual FIS cross-country skiing World Cup win and was joined on the podium by countrywoman Rosie Brennan.

Diggins, the most decorated U.S. Olympic cross-country skier with a medal of every color, broke the record she shared with 2018 Olympic champion teammate Kikkan Randall.

She prevailed in Sunday’s 20km freestyle race (interval start) by 5.5 seconds over Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in Davos, Switzerland. Diggins said her contact lenses froze in her eyes because she didn’t blink enough in the closing stretch.

“I was taking some risks on the last downhill, I almost crashed,” she said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “It got a little scary in the end. ... But I’m OK, I got a lot of help after the finish, but that was kind of crazy.”

Brennan was third for her first podium since last December and the first podium with two Americans since Diggins and Brennan went one-two in back-to-back Tour de Ski stages in January 2021.

Before Randall in 2007, no U.S. woman had won a FIS World Cup cross-country skiing race. (Another skier, Alison Owen-Spencer, won a race in 1978 that U.S. Ski and Snowboard counts as a World Cup, but FIS does not.) Randall ended her career by teaming with Diggins to win the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

Diggins, a 31-year-old, three-time Olympian, is one of four different women with two victories this season. She ranks second in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in the sport, behind Norwegian Tiril Udnes Weng through 10 of 34 scheduled races.

Diggins won the World Cup overall title two years ago and is the top returning skier from last season after the retirement of Norwegian superstar Therese Johaug and the absence of reigning overall champ Natalya Nepryayeva, who cannot compete due to the ban on Russian athletes for the war in Ukraine.

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