Jessie Diggins (CXC Elite) might be the youngest on the CXC Elite squad, but the 19-year-old has stepped up to the challenges of the senior circuit. And she still has more to offer.
Her increased focus on racing has already paid of this season, both in terms of race results and life lessons. “I really didn’t expect any results. I was just looking to have a good year,” Jessie Diggins said of her period 1 races. The Afton, Minnesota, native is taking a year off from school to pursue ski racing full-time with the CXC elite team.
She has learned more about ski waxing, caring for equipment and living on the road over the course of this fall than she thought possible. “I’m better able to take care of myself, get enough sleep, not having so much to think about and it’s definitely less stress in my life,” said Diggins.
“It has been a crazy learning curve,” Diggins told FasterSkier, noting that she feels well prepared for Nationals and still has more to offer than what she has showed off so far.
“When I was racing the last Nor-Am in Rossland, I was thinking. ‘I hope this isn’t the fastest I get. I hope to continue to improve,'” commented Diggins. “I’m excited to see how (the races) go.” Her aim is to qualify for the World Juniors team in Rumford.
“I’d like to make the World Juniors team. That’s been really good the last few years,” she said.
Diggins is no rookie. She has represented the United States in several FIS Nordic Junior World Championships, she has five Junior National Champion titles to her name, and she is about to take her fourth stab at the Senior Nationals. Still, she feels humble in the company of her CXC teammates and competitors.
“I’m definitely the youngest one on my team, but everyone on the team takes really good care of me. I might need a little help, I might forget something. That’s a great part of being on a team,” Diggins said. She admits that she was getting a little homesick toward the end of the six-week SuperTour/Nor-Am road trip that concluded with the 3-day mini-tour in Rossland, British Columbia, the weekend before Christmas.
“It was definitely nice to come home for Christmas. But now I’m really excited to be back on the road.”
Sick to her stomach
Diggins certainly has ambitions for her racing in Rumford. But at the same time, she is careful not to put too much emphasis on Nationals.
“I’d like to race well, but I don’t want to come in with super-high expectations. When I come into races with a lot of expectations, I get physically sick to my stomach, just really nervous,” Diggins explained.
At this point, Diggins must simply trust that she has done the work and prepared as well as she can.
“I just have to relax and not doubt myself. It’s all in my own head. If I have a bad race, I have psyched myself out. I’ve done the training, I’ve done all I can do and now I just need to let it happen,” Diggins said. “When I relax and don’t stress over stuff, I race so much better.”
At the SuperTour, Diggins has gone into every race with a relaxed attitude, and results have followed.
“I’ve just focused on having fun, meet new people and have a good time. I’m learning to be professional,” Diggins said, adding that sometimes she has to remind herself that it’s just ski racing.
“I do this because I love it, not because I need to.”
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.