Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan make their second to last appearance at the 2022 Winter Olympics in the women’s team sprint classic taking shape on Wednesday. Diggins made history in 2018 PyeongChang when she won gold with teammate Kikkan Randall in the same event. Their monumental win marked the first time the U.S. had ever won an Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing.
The team sprint event switches between freestyle and classical technique every other Olympic cycle. Diggins got to ski her preferred freestyle technique in 2018 and will have to find a strong pace in her weaker of the two techniques this year if she is to win Olympic hardware.
Diggins’ historic run at the Olympics did not stop in 2018. She won her first individual Olympic bronze medal in the women’s sprint free in Beijing to mark the first-ever women’s individual cross-country medal for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics. The 30-year-old from Minnesota has placed within the top 10 in every event she has competed in.
Diggins’ compatriot Brennan, is a great classical skier and thrives off of tundra-like temperatures. The Salt Lake City, Utah, native became the second U.S. cross-country skier to win back-to-back World Cup races in Davos and helped carry the U.S. team to a sixth place finish in the women’s 4x5km relay in a gritty second leg skiing classic.
Team sprint layout
The team sprint event begins with two semifinal races where the top four teams from both heats advance to the final. A total of eight teams automatically qualify for the final and the last two spots are given to the fastest two remaining teams from either semifinal. Both the semifinal and final take place on the same day and there are a total of 10 teams in the final.
Teams are made up of two athletes who each ski three laps, six laps total. Laps are 1.5km (.93 miles) in length and skiers alternate one lap at a time. While one skier is racing, the other is resting. The skier who starts the race will not end it. The total length of the race is about 9km and the team whose anchor leg crosses the finish line first is the winner.
The U.S. cross-country skiers function best off of their inclusive team atmosphere and even have matching race day socks to fuel their fire. The U.S. will have the chance to make a repeat of their 2018 gold medal performance in the women’s team sprint classic on Feb. 16 at 2:15 a.m. ET.
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