Second place for Jessie Diggins. Add that to the list. On Saturday, at the last World Cup in Europe before the Ski Tour Canada, the 24-year-old U.S. Ski Team member raced to her career best in a sprint and first appearance in the six-woman final since placing fourth in the Lahti freestyle sprint a year ago.
Back in Lahti, Finland on Saturday, Diggins finished second to Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in the 1.6-kilometer freestyle sprint — her best result of the season after placing eighth in the freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Diggins went on to win a stage at the Tour de Ski: the 5 k freestyle in Toblach, Italy, and placed third in the 10 k freestyle at another World Cup last month in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
So you can say it’s been quite a run for Diggins. On Saturday, she qualified second behind Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, a serial qualifier winner, and advanced in second out of her quarterfinal (behind Falla), then third as a lucky loser out of her semifinal (behind Falla and Østberg, respectively).
In the final, Falla charged to the win in 3:33.81, while 0,25 seconds back, Diggins outlasted Norway’s Heidi Weng in a photo finish for second. The American took it, by 0.06 seconds, Weng placed third and Østberg finished fourth (+0.41) ahead of a fourth Norwegian in the final, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in fifth (+2.27). Sweden’s Hanna Falk finished sixth (+18.4).
Also in the heats, Sadie Bjornsen qualified 12th and advanced to the semifinals in second (behind Falk) in her quarterfinal. Bjornsen went on to place fifth in the second semifinal, behind Weng, Jacobsen, Norway’s Therese Johaug, and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, respectively, for 10th overall.
Sophie Caldwell finished 13th overall after qualifying sixth and finishing third in her quarterfinal. Ida Sargent placed 24th overall after qualifying 27th then taking fifth in the same quarterfinal as Bjornsen. Also for the U.S. women, Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished 35th and Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) was 50th in the qualified.
Out of two U.S. men starting on Saturday, Simi Hamilton qualified 10th and went on to place 17th after finishing fourth in his quarterfinal, 0.6 seconds behind the winner — Petter Northug of Norway. Reese Hanneman (Alaska Pacific University) placed 49th on the day.
The fourth-fastest men’s qualifier, Norway’s Emil Iversen won his quarterfinal, semifinal and ultimately the final, beating out teammate Finn Hågen Krogh and Northug in second and third, respectively. Italy’s Federico Pellegrino placed fourth, and two more Norwegians Sindre Bjørnestad Skar and Eirik Brandsdal rounded out the final in fifth and sixth, respectively.
No Canadians competed.
Stay tuned for in-depth reports on the women’s and men’s races.