OBERHOF, Germany (Dec. 28) – World Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) issued a strong opening statement Saturday with a fifth-place finish at the women’s Tour de Ski 3k prologue. Newcomer Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) finished ninth in her career-first Tour race while Norway’s Marit Bjoergen took the victory. The Tour continues Sunday with men’s and women’s sprints instead of the usual distance races due to warm temperatures and very limited snow.
World Champion Jessie Diggins finished fifth and newcomer Sophie Caldwell (pictured) finished ninth at the women’s Tour de Ski 3k prologue Saturday in rainy Oberhof, Germany. (Getty Images/Bongarts/Christof Koepsel)
Today was a great way to begin the Tour de Ski. I had good energy and fantastic Salomon boards thanks to our staff doing an incredible job, and it was so fun to see the rest of the team kick off the races well!
I'm not bummed out by the added skate sprint, that's for sure, as I like skate better than classic. So I'm excited for the upcoming races. The tour is a fun, extremely hard, exciting series, and I think the key is to put together as many solid performances as you can. No day needs to be an A-plus, but if you can have a lot of A-minus days in a row without building too much fatigue, the tour goes pretty well!
This is my first time starting the Tour de Ski and it's pretty rare that we get to race prologues, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The snow was really wet and dirty, but they salted some parts of the course beforehand so those parts hardened up a little. I think I executed my plan well because I felt great my first lap and even though I started to get tired my second lap, I held it together enough to have a strong finish.
I think it's a little funny that a prologue is considered a distance race since it's only 3k, but it's also definitely not a sprint. I've never been in the top 30 in a distance race and now I have one top 10 in a sprint and a prologue is somewhere in between the two, so I wasn't sure what my expectations were, but a ninth definitely exceeded them!
It was a great start to the Tour de Ski for the cross country team today. The freestyle prologue has become one of our best events. Today's result for Jessie Diggins (fifth) ties her best individual World Cup result. Today's result for Sophie Caldwell (ninth) ties her best World Cup finish from Davos in the sprint two weeks ago and marks her first-ever World Cup distance race points. For Andy Newell, it was his fourth straight year taking points in this event in Oberhof. As a Team, we should build momentum over the next two stages, which include a skate sprint here in Oberhof on Sunday and another skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on Tuesday. We are very excited to be entering the Tour with a handful of athletes that are fit, healthy, and excited to be racing despite some inclement weather and low-snow conditions here in Germany.