Jessie Diggins has now won three interval start, freestyle 5k races in a row in the World Cup, a feat only shared with one other skier, Elena Valbe of Russia. Those races include:
In the latest win, Diggins led most of the way an finished almost 14 seconds ahead of second place over Finland's Krista Parmakoski. Diggins teammate Sadie Bjornsen just just another second back in third. Top results:
Video of 2017 Toblach 5k
Diggins was a very early starter in the interval start race, going out 12th with Sweden's Charlotte Kalla two spots ahead of her. Her splits quickly put her on top, but she had to wait for times from later-starting contenders - one of which was Bjornsen starting 26th. In the final analysis, Diggins made her move between the 2.1k and 3.4k timing splits, moving for fourth up to the lead and building her margin.
“I attacked every inch of the course, skiing as fast as I could on each section,” said Diggins, who did not take splits during the race. “I had fun on all the corners and downhills! I love this course and it plays to my strengths because you have to work every inch of it and never let up. I went into the day feeling ready and believing in myself - ready to make it happen again.”
Diggins took her greatest pride in the accomplishment of the team. “To stand on the podium with a great friend and teammate is so much more exciting. I was just thrilled for Sadie today, as well as with my own race.” It was the first time that two U.S. women shared a World Cup distance podium, with Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) and Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT) first and third in a 2014 sprint. At the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Diggins and Caitlin Gregg won silver and bronze in the 10k freestyle.
“Today was just amazing,” said Bjornsen. “I am trying to take each day one at a time. So today I was ready to try my 5k skills again after my little explosion on the last 5k.”
“I wanted to go out there today and see how strong I could be inside my head,” said Bjornsen, who like Diggins did not take split times during her race. “I love this course, but pacing is important, and I wanted to do my own thing. When I crossed the line, I had no idea where I had finished, so it was a fun surprise - like Christmas!”
Over the course of the 13-minute race, she continually ran two things through her mind: ‘stay strong Sadie’ and ‘what would Jessie Diggins do?’
“There is so much work on the second half of the race, and Jessie is just amazing at being strong on that section,” she explained. “So I was imagining her the whole second half in front of me, and it seemed to have worked.”