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Diggins secures second Crystal Globe with 'really emotional' mass start triumph

Mar 17, 2024·Cross-Country
Jessie Diggins with her two Crystal Globes after topping the World Cup standings in distance as well as overall © NordicFocus
Jessie Diggins with her two Crystal Globes after topping the World Cup standings in distance as well as overall © NordicFocus

Jessie Diggins (USA) secured the women's overall Crystal Globe of the Coop FIS Cross-Country World Cup 2023/24 as she finished off an impressive season with a victory in the Women’s 20km Mass Start Free in Falun, Sweden on Sunday.

The 32-year-old USA superstar, who became the first non-European to clinch the overall title three years ago, did it again as she closed the season with a total of 2,746 points – 175 more than runner-up Linn Svahn from Sweden. Svahn’s teammate Frida Karlsson finished third in the overall World Cup standings, on 2,309 points.

After two days of strong winds, snow and rain posing a challenge to the skiers and their wax teams in Falun, the mid-Swedish town offered sun and clear skies for the final day of the season.

"It's been a hard year and today my only goal was to go out there and have the most fun, and I really did."Jessie Diggins

Shining even brighter in cheeks glittering of gold, Diggins made a tactically perfect race, picking up the maximum 30 bonus sprint point along the way before crossing the finish line 0.9 second before Heidi Weng (NOR) in second place as Anne Kjersti Kalvaa (NOR) finished third.

"It was really emotional," said Diggins, who struggled to hold back her tears after winning the distance and overall Crystal Globes.

"It's been a hard year and today my only goal was to go out there and have the most fun, and I really did."

She has called it "a real surprise of a season", that she at times doubted she would even take part in. In September, Diggins shared an emotional post on social media where she said that after 12 years she had been struggling with her eating disorder again.

As Diggins got better she was happy only to be able to race again, but the 2023/24 season would be packed with memorable highlights for Diggins, who won the Tour de Ski and brought the World Cup back to her home in Minnesota, for the first time on US soil in more than 20 years.

She finished it off in the best way possible, smiling along the course as she increased the lead to Svahn by 100 points in the last event.

"I was smiling at the coaches out there and I just wanted to finish with nothing left, and that was really painful but it was so fun to go out there and just try to ski hard, ski well and make a brave race," Diggins said, thanking her wax technicians for her fast skis.

"That is all I wanted to do so huge thanks to the 'techs', they made amazing skis, it feels really cool to end this season as one big team.”

A big group stuck together for most of the race. At the 15km mark, 25 skiers were within 13 seconds of each other but then the field started to stretch out. With 2.5km left of the race – and of the season – Diggins, Weng and Kalvaa set off to battle it out for the top-three position. It became a sprint finish where the Diggins dug deep to end an exceptional season on top of the podium.

"I just wanted to leave it all out there because I know that when I do that, I can walk away proud. If I'm first, if I'm last, it doesn't matter, if I give it everything I have then I'm going to be proud of what I put out there," the winner said.

Playing it safe in the back had never been an option.

"I wanted to make the techs proud so that they could see I was skiing a 'gutsy' race, and that was it. I'm really happy and now I am ready to go home," Diggins said.

The two Norwegians on the podium also ended the season on a high, showing that they are still a force to be reckoned with in distance skiing. Weng had been the best Norwegian with a seventh place in Saturday's 10km Classic, where Kalvaa had finished 40th.

Signing off the season on the podium, the Norwegians will bring a good feeling into the preparations for the 2024/25 season that includes a home FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Trondheim, Norway.

"I had to dig really deep for this one," Kalvaa said.

"I wanted to go home yesterday but I had such incredibly good skis. It is lovely to get this podium to finish off the season."

Watch as it happened: Diggins caps off memorable season with mass start win

On Saturday, Jonna Sundling had been the best home skier with a third place in the Women's 10km Individual Start Classic. Sunday’s race followed the same pattern; Sundling finished fourth as the rest of the team were much further from the podium than the many fans in the stands – including the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustaf – had hoped for. 

Frida Karlsson (SWE), who alongside Ebba Andersson had been the big home hope, broke her pole twice and had to settle for a 15th place as the second-best Swedish skier. 

Svahn, who had said she had needed a miracle to get close to Diggins in the overall standing, finished 26th as many Swedes complained about bad wax on their skis. The battle for the Crystal Globe had been over before Diggins crossed the finish line. When Diggins caught the last 15 bonus points, it had been game over for Svahn, who still has a lot to be proud of this season. 

As Sweden have yet to get an overall women’s champion, the 24-year-old sprint Crystal Globe winner became the second Swedish woman to finish second in the overall standings after Marie-Helene Westin (SWE) did it in 1987/88.

Saturday's 10km winner Kerttu Niskanen (FIN) finished fifth, 10.4 seconds after Diggins, as her teammate Krista Parmakoski claimed the sixth place.

Germany's Victoria Carl checked out from a strong season with a seventh place to claim the second place in the women's distance standings, 44 points before No.3 Andersson.

Astrid Oeyre Slind (NOR), who was tangled in with Karlsson at one stage, had to settle for an eighth place as she finished 0.1 second before No.9 Silje Theodorsen (NOR), making it four Norwegians in the top-ten. Rosie Brennan (USA) finished 10th to finish off the season as the No.7 in the overall standings.

Click here for full results from the 20km Women's Mass Start Free and here for the final World Cup standings.

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