The USA's Jessica Diggins has recorded her second ever individual World Cup victory on stage two of the Lillehammer mini tour. Diggins completed the challenging 5 km course in free technique in a time of 12:40.3. World Cup overall leader Heidi Weng (NOR) was second +4.8 seconds back with her teammate Marit Bjoergen in third place +15.8 second off of Diggins.
Heading into the final competition of the 3-day mini tour Weng will have a 20.7 second head start over Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) in the 10 km C pursuit. Oestberg finished 5th on day two just 1.4 seconds from the podium. Third on tomorrow's start list will be Diggins +21.6 seconds after Weng.
The win matched her victory in Toblach, Italy in last season's Tour de Ski, also in a 5k freestyle. She also teamed up with Kikkan Randall for a team sprint win in Quebec in December 2012.
"Having such a strong team means the world to me and today our techs and coaches gave me an amazing opportunity with lightning fast skis," she added. "When they gave me this opportunity, I had to take it."
Diggins charged relentlessly around the 5k track, accelerating up hills and skating ferociously to the finish to take an early lead. Going out 34th in the interval start race, she had to wait for 60th-starting Weng to know she had the win.
The Lillehammer course played to Diggins' strengths. And after three straight classic races to start the season, she was fired up for the day. "I had the cheering and belief of the team on my mind as my goal was to get out and charge as hard as I could throughout the whole course," she said. "I knew this course played to my strengths with fun, swooping downhills so I looked for every second I could get out there."
A pied piper for the sport over the past few seasons, one of the most important things on her mind was how this would motivate others. "I hope this helps back home," she said. "I’m nothing special or different in any way. If I can do it, so can all the kids back home."
The win came on a venue in the heart of the sport's homeland and site of the 1994 Olympics. "It was very special to win here in Norway against a strong field," Diggins added. "I really look up to and respect my Norwegian friends and it was so cool to get hugs from them at the finish! I had a great time getting to know those girls better this summer and it's fun to see your friends do well!
Jessica Diggins (USA)
I really like the course here, especially the downhills. I am very happy with today. I had great skis and team around me. There were so many people believing in me. I skied as fast as I could and I had fun on the course. It’s gonna be tough tomorrow. I have been working a lot on my classic technique. We will see what happens tomorrow.
Heidi Weng (NOR)
At the last intermediate position I was behind Jessica and I knew she will be fast in the downhill. I felt very good today. I am leading before the last stage. I think Ingvild and Marit will go together. I will go as fast as possible tomorrow.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
It was not my best race ever. It was tough from the beginning. There were some strong girls in front of me so I tried to be pushing as hard as I could to the finish. I won some seconds on Astrid in the last kilometre. I am happy to be third.
1. DIGGINS Jessica 1991 USA 12:40.3
2. WENG Heidi 1991 NOR +4.8
3. BJOERGEN Marit 1980 NOR +15.8
4. JACOBSEN Astrid Uhrenholdt 1987 NOR +16.4
5. OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad 1990 NOR +17.2
Complete results are available HERE
1. WENG Heidi NOR 15:35.0
2. OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad NOR +20.7
3. DIGGINS Jessica USA +21.6
Complete standings are available HERE.