GAELLIVARE, Sweden (Nov. 25) – The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team made history Sunday, scoring its first ever FIS World Cup relay podium in a women’s 4x5k team event in Gaellivare. Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) outsprinted Norway II into the finish to claim third with Norway taking the win over Sweden. After a solid opening classic leg by Holly Brooks (Anchorage), Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) put the team into podium position with a powerful freestyle leg by Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) setting the stage for Diggins to bring home the podium.
Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall erupt in joy as the U.S. Women's Cross Country Ski Team scored an historic first ever FIS World Cup relay podium. (Getty Images/AFP-Jonas Ekstromer)
- The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team scored an historic first ever relay podium in a women’s 4x5k team event in Gaellivare.
- Norway I, anchored by Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen, took a solid win with a 19.6 margin over Sweden with Olympic champion Charlotte Kalla skiing final leg. Jessie Diggins skied anchor for the USA finishing 8.8 seconds behind Sweden and a half second ahead of a hard charging Norway II.
- Holly Brooks (Anchorage) opened the first of two classic legs with a solid performance, 11.2 seconds out in eighth.
- Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) moved the USA into clear podium position with the fastest leg time and into second, 8.2 seconds behind Norway I.
- Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT) skied a powerful opening freestyle leg to expand the lead over Sweden and come within 4.2 seconds of Norway I at the handoff to Diggins.
- Diggins went out anchoring knowing that Kalla would likely move up to second, but kept a focus on a head-to-head battle with Norway II, earning the podium for the USA with a strong finish sprint.
- The U.S. women had scored a previous best last winter in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic finishing fifth without an ailing Randall.
- The U.S. men were 15th in the 4x7.5 relay.
- The World Cup now heads to Kuusamo, Finland for the opening sprints of the season.
Jessie Diggins, anchor leg (freestyle)
I truly believe that our result today has everything to do with this team having such a strong group atmosphere - we all support and push each other to be our best every day. I know I race faster when I feel like I'm a part of an amazing group of women. We skied our hearts out and I am so proud to be a part of something this big.