Embracing the suffering, Jessie Diggins dug deep to clinch bronze for the United States. The win secured the first-ever women’s individual cross-country sprint medal for the United States at the Winter Olympics and just the second overall (Bill Koch -- silver in Men's 30km in 1976).
Getting into the right position for a surge in the home stretch, Diggins situated herself right into the top three. She applied power to the snow and lived up to the billing with teammate Rosie Brennan, who finished fourth. Diggins crossed the finish line with a final time of 3:12.84. Reigning world champion in the women's individual sprint Jonna Sundling of Sweden won Olympic gold with a time of 3:09.68 and had a significant lead in the second half of the final. Maja Dahlqvist won silver with a time of 3:12.56 to complete the podium along with her Swedish teammate.
The strong aerodynamic tucks Diggins utilized on the downhill helped her gain momentum to creep up on the competition. She showed patience around the final turn of the course, which set her up nicely to swing right next to Nadine Faehndrich of Switzerland. Prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics, Diggins already won an individual sprint free event this season by defending her Tour de Ski title in December. She tapped into her veteran Olympian status and World Cup experience to find tempo and pace in the historic race. Prioritizing recovery with hydration and rest in between rounds was also a major focus for Diggins throughout the competition that lasted all day.
She entered the finals after avoiding near-disaster in the semifinals during the second half of the race. Diggins didn't panic and rallied to clinch a spot in the finals. The calm and composed performance in the finals ultimately led to more Olympic lore for Diggins and the United States in cross-country skiing.
Diggins has always said her greatest strength in ski racing has been knowing how to pull more from her body than is reasonable. She thrives in both the individual and team environments and adds enthusiasm to everything she does. Drawing on everything possible to win bronze, maybe it was the six cans of glitter she brought to the 2022 Winter Games that aided in her win. Or maybe it was the extra push she received from competing alongside her teammate Brennan. But, what makes Diggins a true Olympic champion, is the speed she gets when she's having the most fun. And when Diggins is having fun, watch out.