At last season’s U.S. national championships in Anchorage, Jessie Diggins was a very strong junior skier, but not a whole lot more than that. Fast forward 12 months, and she’s transformed herself into a legitimate title threat through a post-grad year with Central Cross-Country’s Team Vertical Limit.
After popping a couple podiums in domestic races in the fall, Diggins put the country’s elite women on notice in Saturday’s skate sprint qualifier at the U.S. championships in Rumford, skiing to a convincing two-second win over APU’s Sadie Bjornsen. Caitlin Compton (CXC) was third.
Dartmouth’s Sophie Caldwell was just over four seconds back, in fourth, and APU’s Holly Brooks was another two-tenth’s back in fifth.
Man-made, transformed snow on the women’s 1.4-kilometer course was skiing very fast; Diggins’ winning time was three minutes and 10 seconds—36 seconds quicker than the winning qualifier time in last weekend’s classic sprint.
There’s a dicey, icy corner before one of the course’s two main climbs, which Bjornsen described as “super-hairy” after her qualifier. It could make for some rough-and-tumble racing in the afternoon.
The heats get rolling at 11:30—we’ll have updates on the Continental Cup blog, and on @FasterSkier on Twitter.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.