Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) leads the 16-member 2018-19 U.S. Cross Country Team, announced by U.S. Ski & Snowboard, with a strong focus on the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. The team kicks off the 2018-19 FIS World Cup Cross Country season in Ruka, Finland, Nov. 24-25.
“The 2018-19 World Cup season has the potential to be one of the best in history for the USA,” said U.S. Cross Country Head Coach Chris Grover. “The athletes who earned 16 of a record 17 World Cup podiums last season are returning and are motivated to pick up where they left off.”
The team had a historic 2017-18 season with Diggins and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, Alaska) winning the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in the team sprint. Diggins also finished the season ranked second in the overall World Cup standings, and third in the distance World Cup standings. Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) finishing third in the World Cup sprint standings. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) also had a breakthrough season with four individual podiums, finishing sixth in the overall World Cup standings. The 16-member team will look to carry that momentum into the 2018-19 World Championship season.
“I’m looking forward to kicking the season off with the team in a few short days,” Caldwell said. “Our team will go into each weekend with big goals, but our biggest focus this year will be World Champs in Seefeld, Austria, where we have had some success before.”
In addition to the grueling season-long World Cup schedule, many of the athletes will start the seven-stage Tour de Ski December 29 -January 6 – as a major focus of the season. Some athletes will race through the Val Mustair stage, while a select few will likely compete in the full tour in preparation for the upcoming World Championships.
“Our focus for the season is the Seefeld World Championships, which begins quite late in February, so we are not focused on being in top race form in November or December but will undoubtedly have some success then as well,” Grover said. “ Look for the USA athletes to be coming into top form in the Tour de Ski and beyond.”
A veteran group of athletes will headline the U.S team at the FIS World Championships in Seefeld, Austria February 19 - March 3 with favored events for the U.S. team, including freestyle sprint; men’s 30k and women’s 15k skiathlon; and a classic team sprint.
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