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Jessie Diggins ups Tour de Ski lead with 17th World Cup win

Jessie Diggins

TOBLACH HOCHPUSTERTAL, ITALY - DECEMBER 31: Jessie Diggins of the United States celebrates after the award ceremony for placing third at the FIS World Cup Cross - Country Tour de Ski 10km on December 31, 2023 in Toblach Hochpustertal, Italy. (Photo by Grega Valancic/VOIGT/GettyImages)

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With no Olympics or world championships this season, the annual Tour de Ski takes on greater significance for cross-country skiers.

American Jessie Diggins built a substantial 47-second lead through the first three of seven stages, seeking to win the Tour de France-like event for a second time.

She was ninth in the opening freestyle sprint last Saturday, then third in a classic 10km on Sunday before winning a 20km freestyle pursuit on Monday for her American record-extending 17th FIS World Cup victory.

Diggins was fourth-fastest overall in Monday’s pursuit, but she was the first starter due to her seven-second lead in the Tour standings after the first two stages.

Nobody caught her, and she added 40 seconds to her lead going into the fourth stage, Wednesday’s freestyle sprint in Davos, Switzerland.

That’s followed by 20km and 15km classic races on Thursday and Saturday, then Sunday’s grueling, closing 10km climb up Alpe Cermis in Italy.

In January 2021, Diggins became the first skier outside Europe to win a Tour, which at the time was the biggest individual title of her career. She since won her first two individual Olympic medals (silver and bronze) and last February became the first American to win an individual world title in the sport.

In 2021, Diggins led by five seconds after three Tour stages and by the end won by 1:24.8, the fifth-largest margin of the 17 women’s Tours held so far.

This year, her 47-second lead is greater than the difference between second place and 10th place.

Diggins also leads this season’s World Cup overall standings, which takes into account every race from November into March, through 12 of 34 scheduled races.

In 2021, she paired her Tour de Ski crown with a World Cup overall title, becoming the second American — and first American woman — to claim the latter.