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Jessie Diggins 5th in snowy Rybinsk sprint

Tue, Jan  27, 2015 - By USSA

RYBINSK, Russia (Jan. 24, 2015) – After a strong qualification that saw seven Americans move through to the rounds, Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) moved through the heats to finish fifth overall and to lead the U.S. at the World Cup freestyle sprint Saturday in Rybinsk. Falling snow and soft conditions made for a different feel than the season long hardpack that’s dominated both sprints and distance races to this point. Today’s fifth place is a season high for Diggins.

“I felt really strong in the first two heats and definitely got tired in the final but the whole day was an adrenaline rush. I'm really proud of our coaches and techs for making such speedy skis and working so hard with such great energy,” Diggins said of her day.

Similarly Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) worked through the tricky snow to finish seventh, 11th and 13th respectively.

The women skate through a frozen landscape in Rybinsk during a World Cup freestyle sprint where Jessie Diggins finished fifth. (Getty Images/AFP-Alexander Nemenov)

The women skate through a frozen landscape in Rybinsk during a World Cup freestyle sprint where Jessie Diggins finished fifth. (Getty Images/AFP-Alexander Nemenov)

“It was snowing like crazy,” Bjornsen explaid. “It was different than the normal familiar snow and conditions we are usually skiing on. The course was very soft, so you had to find the magic push of not too hard, but just enough. I have never found this condition to be my strength, so I was actually very happy to find my way into the semis!” Sophie Caldwell shared the same sense of how the race unfolded.

“These conditions are something we don't see a ton of on the World Cup. It was extremely soft out there. I feel like we're often on harder man made snow or when it is soft, it's usually wet. There was also a huge kicker of a hill on the course, so between the soft snow and the hill, it was definitely a leg burner.”

On the men’s side of the race, three men started, all qualified and all lost in early quarter finals. Simi Hamilton, tripped slightly on the soft uphill to lose contact. He closed to teammate Andy Newell in the same heat but neither were able to find the speed in the final stretch to qualify forward. Newell remained positive on the long term expectations for the season. “It was another rough day for me unfortunately struggling to generate good power especially since i've had a rugged neck injury since Otepaa. So it's frustrating for me since it feels like if it's not one thing its the other. Body has been feeling decent but really didn't have much today across the flats with a super stiff neck. For me the season so far has been full of obstacles which has definitely shown on the results sheet with some of my worst finishes to date. The plus side is that I think my history kind of speaks for itself and I don't feel the need to really prove myself on the word cup at this point. instead I can focus on healing up and being in the best shape possible for World Champs.”

Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA) qualified for his first series of heats. “Once moving on to the heats I was a spectator from the back of the pack. You have to be on it and aggressive in the World Cup heats. Next time I will be a little less shocked and little more hungry for a semi final spot!”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Jessie Diggins led the U.S. team with a fifth place finish in the Rybinsk World Cup freestyle sprint today.
  • Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Ida Sargent finished 7th, 11th and 13th respectively.
  • Swedish skier, Jennie Öberg, skied to her first World Cup win.
  • The U.S. men all qualified for the rounds but finished out of advancing in the quarterfinal.
  • Simi Hamilton finished 17th to lead the U.S. men.
  • Andy Newell and Erik Bjornsen finished 22nd and 24th respectively.
  • Frederico Pellegrino of Italy continued a streak of strong sprinting to take the win in Rybinsk.

QUOTES

Jessie Diggins

I had such a crazy fun time out there today, especially getting to race with so many US girls in the heats!

I felt really strong in the first two heats and definitely got tired in the final but the whole day was an adrenaline rush. I'm really proud of our coaches and techs for making such speedy skis and working so hard with such great energy.

It was such a good confidence boost and is a great way to get ready for Worlds! Liz's race yesterday was so inspiring and she's paving the way for us like Kikkan before her, and I feel so lucky to have such amazing role models and teammates!

Sadie Bjornsen

It was a lot of fun out there today. It was snowing like crazy, so it was different than the normal familiar snow and conditions we are usually skiing on. The course was very soft, so you had to find the magic push of not too hard, but just enough. I have never found this condition to be my strength, so I was actually very happy to find my way into the semis finally! It has been three years since I made it into the semis, so that was very fun for me! I didn't feel like I got to ski my best once I got there, but it’s another step and I’m happy.

It was a great day for the team today. I think that we are all building into a good place just before our training block prior to the championships, so that it awesome. To see some amazing results yesterday, and then some more results again today; it makes me excited to see what will happen tomorrow and beyond! I especially enjoyed watching Jessie today. I haven't seen that "Jessie" yet this year, so I think she is going to be turning heads quickly here! I can see it in her quick movements. I am just really proud to see her into the finals today!

I am feeling good and ready for tomorrow. I am excited to start a pursuit, and try something we haven't gotten to do yet this year! Hopefully conditions will get a bit more firm; but if not, another day of finding a way to float here in Russia! Thanks to the techs and coaches for giving us yet again, so awesome skis!

Simi Hamilton

I was pretty happy with how the qualifier played out, especially since it was super soft and in order to ski that long steep climb well you had to stay really light and snappy which is something that I haven't been very good at in the past and have focused on in the last couple ofseasons.

I was happy with my start in my quarter but about a third into the course, I let a few guys slip by me on the long flats. I tried to regain a good spot leading into the steep climb by getting back in front of the French skier in front of me, but I couldn't quite pull it off because that far right edge of the track was still about 8 inches of powder. We went into the climb three abreast which was definitely too wide for that part of the course and the conditions, and I ended up getting my left ski skied over and hitting the deck right at the bottom of the long climb. I just focused on getting up as fast as possible and staying in contact with the group, but I think it was just a little too strung out by the time we hit the downhill. Even though I was only able to come away with 4th in a relatively slow heat, I was pretty psyched with how light I was able keep my technique throughout the long and super soft finishing stretch.

I think we're definitely just coming into form right now as a team, as was shown by how well Liz and Jessie skied in the last couple days. Coaches, techs, athletes- all of us know that we'll be in top form in 3 weeks in Falun, and we're all really looking forward to a great training block (and tons of sunshine) in Davos starting on Monday.

Sophie Caldwell

I think today was a really good day for the team with three girls in the top 11, four in the top 15, Ida and Simi having such good qualifiers, and Jess making it into the A final. These conditions are something we don't see a ton of on the World Cup. It was extremely soft out there. I feel like we're often on harder man made snow or when it is soft, it's usually wet. There was also a huge kicker of a hill on the course, so between the soft snow and the hill, it was definitely a leg burner. I was happy with how my day turned out. I think I felt better and better throughout the day and it was a bummer not to make it to the A final, but I'm very pleased with 7th. I'm excited to start another distance race tomorrow. I don't have too many expectations, but I think it's a good opportunity to get out there and I'll try to ski as smart and as well as I can!

Hitting a high note at this point in the season is really good for our team. It's a good time to get psyched and be feeling good leading into World Champs. We now have a couple weeks to prepare and plan on carrying this momentum through February!

Andy Newell

It was another rough day for me unfortunately struggling to generate good power especially since I've had a rugged neck injury since Otepää. So it's frustrating for me since it feels like if it's not one thing it’s another. Body has been feeling decent but really didn't have much today across the flats with that super stiff neck.

For me the season so far has been full of obstacles and that has definitely shown on the results sheet with some of my worst finishes to date. The plus side is that I think my history kind of speaks for itself and I don't feel the need to really prove myself on the World Cup at this point.

I am focused on healing up and being in the best shape possible for World Champs. I'm not used to being in a situation like this where the World Cup results just haven't been there, but it will allow me to focus more on what's working and what I need to improve on leading into the championships so I'm still optimistic I can have a top performance in Falun.

In general this has been a super successful weekend for the US team so spirits are high and as a whole we are on a positive trajectory leading into our pre world champs training camp so we are all stoked about that.

Erik Bjornsen

Once moving on to the heats I was a spectator from the back of the pack. You have to be on it and aggressive in the World Cup heats. Next time I will be a little less shocked and little more hungry for a semi final spot!

RESULTS