The U.S. Nordic women carved some American skiing history Sunday, Jan. 3 during the third stage of the grueling 15th Coop FIS Tour de Ski in Switzerland.
Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins, 29, and Utah native Rosie Brennan, 32, powered to the top of the overall FIS Tour de Ski standings. They finished first and second in Sunday’s 10-kilometer freestyle pursuit race at Val Müstair, Switzerland.
It was the first time that American cross-country skiers finished 1-2 in a World Cup race. Diggins, from Afton, Minn., earned her eighth World Cup victory—seven coming individually and one on a team. Diggins’ last victory was 23 months ago.
It was the third podium finish in three Tour de Ski races for Diggins, the six-time U.S. champion who was making her 215th individual start since her World Cup career started nine years ago.
Diggins placed third in Friday’s Tour de Ski freestyle sprint and third in Saturday’s 10k mass start classic event—which was the first distance event of the Jan. 1-10, eight-stage Tour de Ski.
Sunday in the Switzerland tour finale, Stratton Mountain School alum Diggins (26:54.1) led the field of 55 skiers by five seconds over Brennan (26:59.7) and Sweden’s U-23 racer Frida Karlsson (27:04.8).
On the final lap with 21-year-old Karlsson setting the pace up the last climb, Diggins launched her winning attack. She explained the final sprint to writer Tom Horrocks of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association:
“Frida was amazing,” Diggins said. “I kept trying to push the poles and be there, but I kept thinking that every lap I was going to get dropped. I was just hanging on by a thread and I just got really excited for the downhill. I thought that maybe I could hold on, and if not, then I blow up, but it was worth a shot.”
Coming into Sunday’s third stage, Diggins was second overall in the Tour de Ski, and Brennan was fourth.
After Sunday, Diggins assumed a five-second lead at 59:36 over Brennan (59:41). Ten seconds back in third place is Karlsson.
Historically, Diggins is the only American to finish on the overall podium of the Tour de Ski. She was third overall in 2018, the same year she shared the Olympic team sprint gold medal with Kikkan Randall at PyeongChang, South Korea.
In addition to Diggins and Brennan landing on the podium, Sunday was another impressive day for the Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski team with Hailey Swirbul finishing 13th, and moving from 17th to 13th in the overall standings. Katharine Ogden finished 25th and sits 25th overall.
Dartmouth College grad Brennan, who won back-to-back World Cup races at Davos, Switz. in December, continues to lead the overall FIS World Cup Cross Country standings with 494 points over Russia’s Tatiana Sorina (420). Sorina placed seventh Sunday. Diggins stands in fifth place on the World Cup (339).
Brennan has $38,486 in World Cup prize earnings to date.
Headed by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association cross-country ski program director Chris Grover of Hailey, the Nordic Americans are now ranked second on the FIS Nations Cup with 1,199 points, behind Russia’s leading 1,211 points.
Tour de Ski races coming up:
On Tuesday, Jan. 5 at Tolblach, Italy: Women’s 10k freestyle and men’s 15k freestyle.
Wednesday, Jan. 6 at Tolblach: Women’s 10k classic pursuit and men’s 15k classic pursuit.
Friday, Jan. 8 at Val di Fiemme, Italy: Women’s 10k classic mass start and men’s 15k classic mass start.
Saturday, Jan. 9 at Val di Fiemme: Women’s and men’s classic sprint;
Sunday, Jan. 10 at Val di Fiemme: Women’s and men’s 10k freestyle mass start hill climb.