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USA’s Diggins Stellar 5th in 15km Skiathlon as Sweden’s Kalla Wins First Gold at Pyeongchang UPDATED


February 10, 2018 (Pyeongchang, South Korea) – American Jessie Diggins claimed a stellar 5th in the women’s 15km Skiathlon, the best-ever U.S. women’s cross-country Olympic result, as Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the race taking home the first gold medal of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Diggins at the finish [P] Sarah Brunson/USSA
Kalla attacked with 2km to go and was unstoppable. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen took the silver at 7.8 seconds behind followed by Finland’s Krista Parmakoski in third at 10.1 seconds back. Kalla’s teammate, Ebba Andersson, a first year senior came 4th with Diggins 5th.

Kalla wins [P]
Women's podium [P]
The top Canadian was Cendrine Browne in 33rd in a photo-finish with Anna Haag of Sweden. Caitlin Patterson (USA) was 34th, Kikkan Randall (USA) was 4oth, Canadian Emily Nishikawa was 44th followed by teammates Anne-Marie Comeau in 48th and Dahria Beatty in 52nd.

XXIII. Olympic WintaCendrine Browne (CAN) [P] Nordic Focuser Games Pyeongchang 2018, cross-country, skiathlon women, Pyeongchang (KOR)

“I’m really proud of my race. I could not have pushed harder,” said Diggins. “Being seconds away from a medal and seeing it right there – I know it’s possible, I know I have what it takes. I think I’m in a good place in these Games.”

Women's Skiathlon start [P]
Diggins had a good start setting in with the lead pack of 20 athletes. The Norwegians took to the front but then Kalla showed her teeth yet only for a short time. Then Bjoergen took over and a small gap formed as the transition zone approached.

Diggins leads Heidi Weng (Nor) [P] Nordic Focus
Nearing the changeover, Diggins had dropped back slightly into 13th at six seconds off the leaders. She turned in the fastest pit time in just 27.9 seconds and battled relentlessly to keep in contact with the 10 leaders.

Diggins behind Kalla [P]
Coming into the final big climb with 2km to go Kalla attacked hard and never looked back. Bjoergen and Parmakoski battled for silver and bronze behind while Diggins kept charging from behind but ran out of real estate to catch Sweden’s  Andersson who took fourth.

“I was more nervous at the trials,” said Canada’s Browne. “Now that I’m here I just want to do my best and finish every race knowing I tried as hard as I could and gave it all.”

Caitlin Patterson [P] Nordic Focus

“The courses here in Korea are quite challenging, but they’re fun to ski. The pace was fast right from the start and unfortunately I fell off the back of the main pack within a few kilometers. I took a brief fall before the transition so it wasn’t my best race. It’s an honor to represent Team USA and Jessie Diggins’ historic 5th place finish was awesome. Hopefully there will be more racing to come where I can prove my fitness and abilities,” said the USA’s Patterson.

Kikkan Randall (#19) [P] Nordic Focus
Veteran Randall was also hoping for more. “Today was a tough race. It was hard to get good kick out there for everyone on the super firm snow but I seemed to struggle with my kick more than most. I went with the opening pace for about 2km but totally flooded myself trying to keep up. The skate was slightly better but I had some problems with cramping and didn’t feel like I had my full gears. It was a disappointing result for me. With my distance results this season I wanted to be fighting for a top 15. I’ve got some fueling strategies to work on over the next few days and am confident I have better fitness than I showed today. Great to see Jessie get our best-ever women’s result today, and darn close to the podium,” commented Randall.

Results here.




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