Jessie Diggins adds Olympic bronze to already golden cross-country resume

Jessie Diggins wins bronze in the Olympic Cross-Country Skiing individual sprint freestyle.
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Jessie Diggins added another couple of “firsts” to her already golden Olympic cross-country resume Tuesday, winning the bronze medal in the women’s individual sprint freestyle at Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Center.

The 30-year-old Diggins, who raced to an historic gold with teammate Kikkan Randall in the 2018 Olympic team sprint, became the first Team USA athlete to win an individual medal in any cross-country event and the first U.S. cross-country athlete to win multiple Olympic medals.

“It’s overwhelming, but in a good way,” said Diggins, a three-time Olympian from Afton, Minn. “It’s just really emotional for me because this really belongs to the whole team. And I think it’s taken so many years to get here, to have a U.S. woman have an individual medal.”

Diggins came into Beijing among the favorites in the sprint, which was contested in the freestyle technique – the same technique used to win team sprint gold in 2018. She’s since built off that momentum from PyeongChang, where she also finished sixth in the 2018 sprint classic, and in December she won a freestyle sprint in a Tour de Ski stage.

But Diggins admitted she hasn’t heard much of the hype surrounding her – or her medal chances – prior to Beijing, and instead offered an insight into her priorities at the Games.

“I don’t read the news ever,” she said. “I have to make sure that I’m focused on my team, and I have to make sure I’m focused on being a good teammate and being a good roommate and being considerate. And part of that is just really focusing on, ‘Hey, how am I doing in training today? Did I eat enough? Did I drink enough? How can I make sure that I’m doing the best I can today?’”

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Her personal accountability is undoubtedly what makes Diggins so successful on and off the snow, where she’s become an outspoken advocate for climate change and an ambassador for The Emily Project, a national leader for eating disorder recovery. Diggins sought treatment with The Emily Project as an 18-year-old in an intensive day program. Now 30, she wears the program’s logo on her hat during every competition. She’s also helped educate members of the media on the importance of body image education.

“The last four years I’ve really found my voice, I’ve really found a lot of my purpose, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” said Diggins, who shared her story in her 2020 memoir, “Brave Enough.” “But also, I’m exactly the same person in pretty much every other way.”

Sweden’s Jonna Sundling, the 27-year-old reigning world champion in the sprint classic, took gold after dominating her three qualifying races before the final and won by nearly three seconds. Fellow Swede Maja Dahlqvist, 27, took silver, beating Diggins by a stride. Park City, Utah’s Rosie Brennan, 33, finished fourth in her second Olympics appearance.

“I came into this as prepared as I could be, which was one of my biggest goals,” said Diggins regarding her performance. “The second goal: Cross the finish line with nothing left. And the third goal is to just have fun and keep focusing on the process because that’s what gets me where I am today.”

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Jessie Diggins’ Potential Remaining Schedule at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Event  Date/Time (U.S. Eastern Time) Date/Time (Beijing, China)
Women’s 10km Classic 2/10/22 2:00 AM 2/10/22 3:00 PM
Women’s 4x5km Relay 2/12/22 2:30 AM 2/12/22 3:30 PM
Women’s Team Sprint Classic (Semifinals, Final) 2/16/22 4:00 AM 2/16/22 5:00 PM
Women’s 30km Mass Start Freestyle 2/20/22 2:00 AM 2/20/22 3:00 PM

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