Jessie Diggins’ Tour de Ski history; Kikkan Randall’s 5th Olympics
The U.S. cross-country team that has made so much history the last few years just made some more.
Jessie Diggins became the first American to finish the Tour de Ski on the podium on Sunday, third overall in the 12th annual edition of the World Cup stage race.
The U.S. Olympic cross-country team also grew with the conclusion of the Tour de Ski. Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell previously qualified for PyeongChang.
Now they’re joined by Kikkan Randall, a 35-year-old mom going to her fifth Olympics, and Liz Stephen and Rosie Brennan. And Sadie’s brother, Erik.
No U.S. woman has competed in five Winter Games, but Randall, snowboarder Kelly Clark and Alpine skier Julia Mancuso can do so next month.
The Tour de Ski is akin to the Tour de France, though it’s only a week long. It’s a test of all-around skiing with sprint and distance races in both classical and freestyle technique.
Diggins, 26, overcame a 10-second deficit to Finland’s Krista Parmakoski in the pursuit Sunday to grab the last podium spot.
Norway’s Heidi Weng overtook countrywoman Ingvild Flugstad Østberg to win the Tour de Ski for a second straight year.
Diggins capped a consistently strong Tour de Ski. She finished third, fourth, fifth and seventh among the first six stages leading into Sunday’s finale.
Diggins and Stephen shared the previous best overall Tour de Ski finish for an American -- fifth.
Add this to Diggins’ groundbreaking accomplishments.
In 2013, she and Randall won the first U.S. world title (team sprint).
Last year, Diggins added two more medals to give her four total and become the most decorated American in world championships history.
Diggins is one of four U.S. women with a World Cup podium this season, along with Randall, Bjornsen and Caldwell.
They’re all seeking the second U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal in PyeongChang, 42 years after Bill Koch‘s 30km silver in Innsbruck.
Randall, the trailblazer for U.S. cross-country in the mid-2000s, took a break after Sochi to have son Breck in April 2016. She returned last season and won sprint bronze at worlds.
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