For Jessie Diggins, there is joy in working hard, not just winning medals

2022 Winter Olympics: Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins collapsed in the finish area
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Earlier this week at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Jessie Diggins won bronze in the women’s individual sprint (freestyle) to become the first two-time Olympic medalist in U.S. cross-country skiing history.

Diggins was, understandably, thrilled with the result.

“It’s overwhelming, but in a good way,” she said on Tuesday. “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.”

But the Afton, Minn. resident was also really happy with her result on Thursday, when she finished eighth in the women’s 10km classic sprint. It is the U.S. team’s best ever finish in the event in the classical style. (Diggins also owns the best U.S. finish in the event in the freestyle discipline: 5th at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.)

After collapsing in the finish area – as cross-country skiers are known to do – Diggins looked like a fish out of water, her chest heaving to gulp down air.

In other words: she did her job.

“It was really awesome,” Diggins said, once she caught her breath. “I was so happy because when I race really hard, I start to feel numb from the waist down and if you can’t feel your legs and your skis are that good that you can get up the hill, you know it’s really magical out there.”

Olympians. They’re not like the rest of us.

Even on a stage like the Olympics, Diggins said she tries to stay focused on process-oriented goals.

“Today it was really about, ‘All right, let’s narrow it down to my best pair of skis, let’s dial in the kick, let’s figure this out,'” she said. “I’m just so thankful for the awesome skis and a chance to just practice that power striding. This was a great-feeling classic race for me. I’m really proud of how I paced it. I’m happy.”

Norway’s Therese Johaug won the women’s 10km classic – her second gold medal of these Games – while Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen and Krista Parmakoski claimed silver and bronze, respectively.

After finishing fourth in the individual sprint, U.S. skier Rosie Brennan had another strong performance in the 10km, placing 13th (one minute, 22 seconds behind Johaug).

2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Cross-Country Skiing Schedule – Remaining Events

Cross-Country Skiing Event Date/Start Time (U.S. Eastern)   Date/Start Time (Beijing)  
Women’s 4x5km Relay 2/12/22 2:30 AM 2/12/22 3:30 PM
Women’s Team Sprint Classic (Semifinals and 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

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: 2022 Winter Olympics Schedule – How to watch every women’s event

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC