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Hamilton and Diggins Podium in Gatineau sprint

Wed, Mar  2, 2016 - By USSA

GATINEAU, Quebec (March 1, 2016) – Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) led the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team in the opening races of the Ski Tour Canada in Gatineau on Tuesday. Both Hamilton and Diggins finished third in a 1.7k freestyle sprint, making this Hamilton’s and Diggins’ second sprint World Cup podium of the season. It is also the first time in history, a U.S. man and women have podiumed in a FIS Cross Country World Cup on the same day.

Simi Hamilton and Jessie Diggins celebrate their podiums in the first stage of Ski Tour Canada. (Reese Brown)

Simi Hamilton and Jessie Diggins celebrate their podiums in the first stage of Ski Tour Canada. (Reese Brown)

“To be on the podium with my friends, family and so many excited North American skiers cheering was a dream come true!” said Diggins. “I've been targeting the Canadian tour races all year so it feels wonderful to get off to a great start.”

In the women’s sprints, Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla claimed another victory to extend her lead as World Cup sprint leader. Stina Nilsson of Sweden charged out of the start gate in the finals with Diggins following close behind, but Falla fought hard for the win, edging Nilsson for first while Diggins held on to finish third.

Jessie Diggins waves her flag high in Gatineau. (Reese Brown)

Jessie Diggins waves her flag high in Gatineau. (Reese Brown)

“We had great skis today and it was a tough course to find a window to pass people on, but I felt great all day,” said Diggins.

The men’s final heat was a battle to the finish, as Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov won his first World Cup sprint of the season by a toe. Ustiugov had a strong day and a crucial comeback in the semifinal heat, after breaking a pole in the semis forcing him to drop back in the pack, but managing to fight his way up to finish second and advance to the finals. The men’s final was close as Ustiugov claimed first 0.08 seconds over France’s Richard Jouve. Hamilton attacked from the back of the park in the finals, moving up tactfully throughout the heat to snag third.

Diggins races in Galtineau. (Reese Brown)

Diggins races in Galtineau. (Reese Brown)

“It was a long technical course today, which had me play different tactics throughout the course and in the heats,” said Hamilton. “In the quarterfinals I figured out I had to conserve energy in the middle of the pack and put the move on the horseshoe climb.”

Diggins and Hamilton began and ended the day with the exact same results. They both started off the day strong and fast, qualifying second overall. Diggins finished 2.09 behind Sweden’s Hanna Falk, while Hamilton finished 0.45 seconds behind Norway’s Petter Northug. On a tough, long and tactical course, Hamilton and Diggins both made bold moves throughout the heats to secure third in the finals.

Simi Hamilton lunges for the finish line to take third. (Reese Brown)

Simi Hamilton lunges for the finish line to take third. (Reese Brown)

“The race course was curvy and tight, making passing really challenging,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “Once the heats began, both Jessie and Simi were masterful when it came to making space in which to pass their competitors. They made gaps open for themselves and timed their podium bids perfectly.”

Competition continues Wednesday in Montreal with a 20/13k classic mass start beginning at 12:00 pm EST, which will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

Hamilton races in Galtineau. (Reese Brown)

Hamilton races in Galtineau. (Reese Brown)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This was Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla’s seventh win of the season.
  • Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov recorded his first sprint victory since Nove Mesto in January 2014.
  • It was the second podium this season for both France’s Richard Jouve (Planica) and Hamilton (Toblach) and their third career sprint podiums.
  • The men’s final had all six athletes in a photo finish. First place to fourth were separated by just 0.13 seconds, and fifth and sixth place were 0.71 and 0.72 also a photo finish.
  • The U.S. women qualified four out of 11 in a 1.7k freestyle sprint.
  • The U.S. men qualified two out of 11 in a 1.7k freestyle sprint.
  • Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) finished in the top 10, in eighth place.
  • Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) finished 25th overall, earning him his first sprint World Cup points.

STREAMING SCHEDULE (times EST)

Wednesday, March 2
12:00 p.m. - Women’s 13k classic mass start, Montreal - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
2:30 p.m. - Men’s 20k classic mass start, Montreal - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

Friday, March 4
3:30 p.m. - Men’s and women’s freestyle sprint - Quebec City - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

Saturday, March 5
3:00 p.m. - Women’s 10k freestyle pursuit - Quebec City - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
4:00 p.m. - Men’s 15k freestyle pursuit - Quebec City - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

Tuesday, March 8
3:00 p.m. - Men’s and women’s classic sprint, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

Wednesday, March 9
12:00 p.m. - Women’s 15k skiathlon, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
2:30 p.m. - Men’s 30k skiathlon, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

Friday, March 11
11:45 a.m. - Women’s 10k freestyle interval start, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
3:00 p.m. - Men’s 15k freestyle interval start, Canmore - LIVE - NB Sports Live Extra

Saturday, March
12 3:00 p.m. - Women’s 10k classic pursuit, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
4:00 p.m. - Men’s 15k classic pursuit, Canmore - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra

QUOTES

Jessie Diggins

To be on the podium with my friends, family and so many excited North American skiers cheering was a dream come true! I've been targeting the Canadian tour races all year so it feels wonderful to get off to a great start. We had great skis today and it was a tough course to find a window to pass people on, but I felt great all day.

Simi Hamilton

It was a long technical course today, which had me play different tactics throughout the course and in the heats. A 1.7k sprint is something we don’t usually see too often on the World Cup circuit. In the quarterfinals I figured out I had to conserve energy in the middle of the pack and put the move on the horseshoe climb. It is pretty cool to be on the podium with Richard and Sergey.

Chris Grover, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Head Coach

We are so proud of all the USA athletes today. It was really exciting to see Erik Bjornsen take his first sprint points of the season and finish 25th. Ida Sargent had some back luck who went down in a crash with Sweden's Hannah Falk as well as Sophie Caldwell who got tangled with a German athlete. Jessie and Simi were incredible all day, starting with both of them qualifying in second. The racecourse was curvy and tight making passing really challenging. Once the heats began, both Jessie and Simi were masterful when it came to making space in which to pass their competitors. They made gaps open for themselves and timed their podium bids perfectly.

RESULTS