Jessie Diggins (CXC/USST) continued her early season dominance in the 10 k classic in Bozeman, MT on Sunday. Her 35.7-second victory over Maria Graefnings (University of Utah) was her third-straight win of the weekend. Kate Fitzgerald of APU finished third (+1:06.7).
“I really had a lot of fun today,” said Diggins. “Sometimes when people say ‘have fun out there’ I think it’s more likely that the race is going to hurt like crazy. But today’s race really was fun.”
In contrast to Saturday’s 5 k skate, which she won by a slim 1.3-second margin over teammate Caitlin Gregg (CXC), Diggins logged a more dominant result in the 10 k classic, winning by over half a minute.
The young USST rookie has been working hard on specific goals in each of these early SuperTours. In West Yellowstone, those included practicing the race-day process and acquainting herself with longer distance pacing.
“Today I was working on pacing—trying to take it out a little more smoothly, and focusing on skiing with long, strong strides, instead of short and choppy,” she said. Diggins added that she was excited that many of her fellow CXC teammates raced well on Sunday; Gregg was fourth and Jennie Bender was sixth.
The women’s 10 k followed closely on the heels of the conclusion of the men’s 15 k classic the same morning. Concern for the durability of tracks and the snow cover was well-founded, but according to Diggins she needn’t have been worried.
“At first I was kind of nervous—there’s a bunch of sharp corners and I though, ‘Oh, man. It’s going to scrape all the wax off,’” she said. “But I guess there were a lot of layers of just the right kick; my skis worked out really well.”
Diggins held a commanding 36-point lead in the overall SuperTour standings heading into Sunday’s race. She’s now widened that gap to 48 points. Like Mike Sinnott, the men’s leader, this grants her World Cup start rights in Europe. But the B-Team member of the U.S. Ski Team (USST) was already planning on heading to Italy directly after finishing U.S. Nationals in January. Despite her early season success, she won’t be joining the USST any earlier than planned.
Speaking of the U.S., Diggins said she was most definitely motivated this weekend by news of her teammates doing so well in the Dusseldorf city sprints.
“It’s been a wonderful way to wake up every morning,” she said of getting news of Kikkan Randall’s win on Saturday and the team sprint duo of Randall and Sadie Bjornsen claiming silver on Sunday in Germany.
She described following their success from afar as particularly encouraging given that she trained with the U.S. women during the summer.
“You hear about Kikkan and Sadie, and it makes you want to get out there and race your hardest,” she said. “They trained really hard this summer—I got to see them at camps, and they deserve every single bit of their celebration tonight.”
Along with the rest of CXC, and most other teams on the SuperTour, Diggins is heading to Silver Star in Vernon, BC on Monday, where the first NorAm will be contested.
“I think it will be good competition,” said Diggins, looking forward to mixing it up in Canada. “Everyone is fit and ready.”
Shayla Swanson contributed reporting.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.