Embracing the suffering and almost blacking out, Jessie Diggins dug deep to secure bronze for the United States. This win solidified the first ever women’s individual cross-country sprint medal for the United States at the Winter Olympics.
Getting into the right position for a surge in the home stretch, it situated Diggins right into the top three. She applied power to the snow and lived up to the billing with teammate Rosie Brennan who took fourth. Diggins crossed the finish line in full tilt with a final time of 3:12.84. Reigning world champion in the women’s individual sprint Jonna Sundling of Sweden took Olympic gold with 3:09.68 and had a significant lead in the second half of the final. Maja Dahlqvist won silver with a time of 3:12.56 to top off the podium with her teammate.
The strong aerodynamic tucks Diggins performed on the downhill helped her gain momentum to creep up on competitors. She showed patience around the final turn of the course which set her up nicely to swing right next to Nadine Faehndrich of Switzerland. Prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics, Diggins already won an individual sprint free event this season by defending her Tour de Ski title in December. She tapped into her veteran Olympian status and World Cup experience to find tempo and pace in this historic race. Prioritizing recovery with hydration and rest in between rounds was also a major focus for Diggins throughout the competition that lasted all day.
She came into the finals after avoiding disaster in the semifinals with a fumble of her skis in the second half of the race. When this happened, Diggins didn’t panic and made a comeback to finish in second and clinch the automatic qualification to finals. She repeated this calm and composed performance in the finals which ultimately helped her goal of adding more Olympic lore for the United States.
Diggins has always said her greatest strength at ski racing has been knowing how to pull more from her body than reasonable. She thrives off of a team apparatus and puts enthusiasm into everything she does. Pulling everything possible to win the bronze, maybe it was the six cans of glitter she brought to the 2022 Winter Games that aided in her win. Or maybe it was the extra push she got from competing alongside her teammate Rosie Brennan. But, what makes Diggins a true Olympic champion is the speed she gets when she’s having the most fun. And when Diggins is having fun, she goes fast.