Jessie Diggins (left) shares the podium with Sweden’s Stina Nilsson and Norway’s Heidi Weng in Tuesday’s 5k/5k skiathlon in stage three of the Tour de Ski. (Getty Images/AFP-Christof Stache)
OBERSTDORF, Germany (Jan. 3, 2017) - Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) was second and Sadie Bjornsen (Anchorage, AK) fifth to lead an impressive U.S. finish in the women’s 5k/5k skiathlon in stage three of the Tour de Ski at Oberstdorf.
Tour leader Stina Nilsson from Sweden took the win in a finish line sprint with Diggins - the first non-sprint World Cup win of her career.
"I felt great and positioning became really crucial up that final climb," Diggins said. "I gave the finish stretch everything I had and it was so exciting to be so close to the win!"
Four Americans cracked the top-30 points with Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) 28th and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) 30th. It was a career best skiathlon finish for both Diggins and Bjornsen.
The finish boosted Diggins into fifth in the Tour standings after three of seven stages, with Bjornsen 12th.
Jessie Diggins (left) and Stina Nilsson sprint to the finish of the skiathlon race on Tuesday in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Getty Images- Nils Petter Nilsson)
The two skied together for much of the race, hanging in the top 10 through most of the 5k classic leg before Diggins dropped back to 18th at the changeover and Bjornsen 12th. It was a tightly packed group from the start with only 10 seconds separating the top 19 at the turn.
“I tried to be a little more casual with my start today, and use the whole 10k to move up,” Bjornsen said. “I actually didn't really notice skiing around Jessie until the final climb when I looked up and saw she was leading. I always love skiing around Jess, because it feels a bit like home and gives me confidence. So I find myself doing it more often than not.”
In the skate leg, Diggins caught up to Bjornsen and the two went right back into the top 10. At the midway mark of the skate leg, Diggins made a move through the tightly packed field to take the lead, battling with Nilsson all the way to the finish with Diggins putting heavy pressure on the Swede to the line.
Jessie Diggins reacts to her podium. (Getty Images-Cristof Stache)
“In the classical part I tried to stay with the group and to not fall back too much,” Diggins said. “I had great fast skis. I had more fun in the free technique part but it was great to be in the leading group also after the classic portion.”
The Tour is back in action Wednesday with a freestyle pursuit - women running 10k and men 15k. Diggins and Bjornsen are expected to be contenders in stage four of seven before the Tour de Ski heads to Italy for its final three stages.
Tuesday’s skiathlon will air on Universal HD this afternoon beginning at 5:00 p.m. for the women and 6:00 p.m. EST for the men.
Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen were second and fifth - both career bests to lead the USA in the stage 3 skiathlon in the Tour de Ski.
Diggins moved up to fifth in the Tour standings.
Four Americans cracked the top 30 including Kikkan Randall 28th and Liz Stephen 30th.
Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) was the top American in the men's skiathlon, finishing 35th.
The Tour resumes Wednesday with a freestyle pursuit.
QUOTES Jessie Diggins That was a really exciting race with the whole field staying so close together the entire race. I felt great and positioning became really crucial up that final climb. I gave the finish stretch everything I had and it was so exciting to be so close to the win! Today was a day that really builds confidence for myself and the team and keeps me excited for the stages of the Tour yet to come.
I’m so proud of Sadie and excited for her career-best finish! She is such an impressive racer, and it was great to get four girls into the points today! A big, huge thanks to our staff and wax techs. My skis were absolute rockets today and they’re the real heroes behind the scenes making it possible for us to go race our hardest!
In the classical part, I tried to stay with the group and to not fall back too much. I had great fast skis. I had more fun in the free technique part but it was great to be in the leading group also after the classic portion.
Sadie Bjornsen Today was an incredible day! We woke up to sun and fresh snow ... and I couldn't help but feel like it was Christmas, so I was in a good mood. I had an exceptionally frustrating day two days ago, with the worst explosion I have experienced on the World Cup, so I was determine to turn things around for myself.
I tried to be a little more casual with my start today and use the whole 10k to move up. I actually didn't really notice skiing around Jessie until the final climb when I looked up and saw she was leading. I always love skiing around Jess, because it feels a bit like home and gives me confidence. So I find myself doing it more often than not.
Today was amazing for me because it's a new PR. I skied the fifth-fastest split in the pursuit start skate in Quebec last year, but this is my first official time to break my ‘seventh-place streak.’ It gives me some good confidence going forward in this tour!
Big thanks to the wax crew! I had incredible skis on a challenging day midway through the tour. Pursuits are always tricky, and then stick it in the middle of the tour, and it speaks volumes for the wax crew.