By Blythe Lawrence | Feb. 16, 2019, 10:56 a.m. (ET)
Jessie Diggins celebrates placing third at the cross-country skiing world cup on Jan. 3, 2019 in Oberstdorf, Germany.

 

Just goes to show you can never count Jessie Diggins out.

After barely squeaking into the final, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist skied her way to the top of the podium in the 1.6-kilometer sprint freestyle at the FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup Saturday in Cogne, Italy.

The win was Diggins’ sixth on the world cup circuit, and her first this season. This also marked Diggins’ first win in an individual sprint that was not part of a stage world cup, and it comes days before the world championships, which will be held Feb. 20-March 3 in Seefeld, Austria.

In the semifinal that preceded the medal round, Diggins recorded the slowest time of the six eventual finalists with 3 minutes, 32.14 seconds. Though she didn’t improve the time in the final,  covering the 1.6K distance in 3:32.73, she had more left in the tank than everyone else.

Germany’s Sandra Ringwald trailed Diggins by 0.11 to finish second, followed by Sweden’s Johanna Hagstroem, who was 0.86 seconds behind for third.

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Two-time Olympian Sadie Bjornsen, who won the semi ahead of Ringwald and Diggins, in 3:31.91, was more than three seconds off the pace she’d set in the final, crossing the line in 3:34.96 for fifth place.

The bubbly Diggins, who made history with teammate Kikkan Randall at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as the first Americans ever to win an Olympic cross-country skiing event with their victory in team sprint freestyle, hereby extended an excellent season after a very strong overall showing in the longer Tour de Ski races earlier this winter. She also owns an individual world silver medal from 2017 in sprint freestyle.

In the men’s sprint freestyle, Simi Hamilton finished at the foot of the podium in fourth, 3.91 seconds behind victor Federico Pellegrino of Italy.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.