Jessie Diggins enter the women’s cross-country skiing 10km classic competition after her historic bronze medal win that secured the first ever women’s individual cross-country sprint medal for the United States at the Winter Olympics.
Diggins raced to a final time of 3:12.84 in the women's sprint and will go up against Norway’s Therese Johaug in the individual 10km. Johaug is currently the reigning 2021 World Championship winner of the 10km event and already has a gold medal under her belt from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Johaug took first in the women’s skiathlon with a 30-second lead over second place Natalya Nepryayeva of ROC, who finished in 44:43.9. Johaug crossed the line with a time of 44:13.7 and Diggins finished at 45:04.2 for sixth. Nepryeva will join Diggins and Johaug in the 10km competition.
The women's 10km classic spans over six miles and will test Diggins’ ability to recover mentally and physically after her win on Tuesday. The 10km race is shorter than the skiathlon, but considerably longer than the sprint, and Diggins will have to conjure a race plan that caters to the distance of the course. Pushing her endurance on steep climbs, finding a quick and manageable tempo and using her fellow compatriot Rosie Brennan to find pace are a few strategies Diggins will have to consider heading into the 10km. Diggins is a stronger freestyle skier and the 10km requires athletes to perform the classic technique. It will be crucial for her to find an extra gear in her weaker of the two techniques to push into the top three finishers.
The Stratton, Vermont, native previously won silver in the women’s 10km free event at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Davos, Switzerland, with a time of 23:54.6. In the final 2km of the race, Diggins upped her speed and pulled time off of competitors to finish right behind Johaug. Diggins is notoriously fast on the downhill and conserves energy over these stretches in order to surge later. Emulating the same gritty performance she put down on the course in Davos will be a tactic Diggins taps into when the lactic acid starts to burn during the 10km on Thursday.