Jessie Diggins competes at the FIS Nordic World Cup on Jan. 26, 2020 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
World cup leader Jessie Diggins flew through the course and then held off a Norwegian rival to claim her third cross-country skiing victory of the season Friday in a women’s 10-kilometer interval start freestyle race in Falun, Sweden.
The Afton, Minnesota, native and 2018 Olympic gold medalist set the pace early, then had to wait as the rest of the field wrapped up. Norway’s Therese Johaug proved to be the lead contender, trading the lead position with Diggins throughout the intermediate checkpoints, but Diggins’ time of 23:35.9 ultimately edged Johaug by 2.1 seconds.
“I think if I had to design the perfect course for me this would be it,” said Diggins, who also won her first world championships individual medal in Falun when she finished second in the 10K freestyle in 2015. “It was cold and had amazing speed. The downhills were so fun. It was crazy. It was almost like a video game for me.”
Rosie Brennan, who came into the race ranked second in the world cup standings, was the next best American at eighth, while Sadie Maubet Bjornsen finished 10th in her first world cup race of the season. With the result Diggins retained the overall world cup lead, while Brennen stayed in second.
In the men’s 15K freestyle interval start that preceded the women’s race, American Gus Schumacher continued his strong first full world cup season with a ninth-place finish, while Scott Patterson took 15th, marking his second best finish in an individual race since debuting on the world cup circuit in 2016.
The win continues a dominant season for the 29-year-old Diggins, who earlier this month became the first American to win the prestigious eight-stage Tour de Ski competition. Already the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport, alongside Kikkan Randall in the 2018 team sprint, Diggins now has 10 world cup wins.
The world cup in Falun continues with a men’s 15K and women's 10K classic mass start on Saturday, followed by classic sprint races Sunday.