Career best for Jessica Diggins in Moscow
With her sixth place in yesterday's sprint Jessica Diggins produced her career best. The young led the U.S. squad as three skiers made it to the finals. Beside the youngster Diggins and Sprint World Cup leader Kikkan Randall, Ida Sargent cracked the top 30.
Diggins led the qualifying by a huge 2.47 second margin. "I had no idea - no idea on where I stood (in qualifications). The course was really long and hard – it was cold and with new snow skied a lot longer. There were two pretty steep but short bridges. You had to be ready to change up your pace. Our wax techs did such a good job – our skis were awesome. You had to pace it a little bit so you didn’t blow up for the wax bridge," Diggins said.
In the finals, Diggins held her own in podium position through most of the race before giving ground in the finishing stretch. It was only her fourth World Cup individual sprint and only second time she had qualified for the heats. "After Milan I realized that if you’re really aggressive it’s easy to fall. I wanted to stay out of trouble. So I skied out front. It might not have been the smartest thing to do as I was out of energy for the finals. But I had no idea I was going to make it. By the finishing stretch in the final heat, the last couple hundred meters I felt like I had jelly legs. I kept going as hard as I could," she commented.
Randall, who had been sick earlier in the week, skied well and was second in her quarterfinal heat. She and Diggins had set the pace in the semis before Russian Natalia Korosteleva caught her for second right at the finish line. "I had stomach flu earlier in the week and wasn’t sure how I would do. But I was happy with the qualifier.
In the quarterfinal I had a good start but with the wind I didn’t want to lead so much. A couple Russians went into the lead. And with 200 meters to go I didn’t have quite the pop I had thought.
In the semis I couldn’t find a place to tuck in so went off to the side. There were three of us up front going into the final bridge and there wasn’t quite the room. When you’re on that final stretch, the wind is blowing. I knew it was close and I knew someone was coming. It was a bummer to miss out on the finals by a tenth," Randall commented.
Randall slightly extended her World Cup sprint lead over Natalia Matveeva, who went out in the quarterfinals, now with more than a 100 point margin. Randall remained fourth in the World Cup overall. "I’m happy to still be in the red jersey – it’s been quite an honor to wear it for so many weekends. (Poland’s Justyna) Kowalczyk has been sneaking up and will be someone to contend with in the final stretch of the season. I hope I can get back to my top race form. We have one skate and three classic sprints now to the end of the season," Randall concluded.
Contributed by U.S. Ski Team