In the continuing spirit of Women’s History Month, this article is being reprinted from the xcskiresorts.com web site, Roger Lohr, publisher. The story originally was written by Peggy Shin and posted at TeamUSA.com. Diggins previously was saluted on this web site along with Olympics teammate Kikkan Randall for their Gold Medal performance at the 2018 Winter Games.
Following an Olympic gold medal in 2018 and a published autobiography in 2020, Jessie Diggins continued her onslaught of Nordic skiing and the world beyond. This winter season, the 29 year old Diggins overcame the threat of the worldwide pandemic and her female competitors to become the first American woman to win the overall FIS cross country ski world cup title in history.
In a story posted on TeamUSA.org by Peggy Shin, this year Diggins’ accolades included winning the large crystal globe given to the overall FIS World Cup winner, the overall distance title for the season, and the Tour de Ski — dominating the eight-stage race with six podium finishes and two wins.
Refusing to take individual credit for the overall win, Diggins stated that she felt gratitude for her team. “This is something we’ve worked towards as a team and something that we’ve been building momentum towards for many years. There are so many people working behind the scenes [prepping our] skis, coaching us, writing our training plans, helping us with sports psychology, helping fund our team. There are so many people who get us to the start line.
This was Diggins’ tenth full season competing on the world cup tour, and she commented “Getting a little bit older, getting tougher mentally and physically, the more years you’ve trained, you have more hours, more experience, more intervals, more races under your belt. I’m learning more about my body and learning how it can perform well in a race.”
Several races in the 2020-21 world cup schedule were canceled, and many teams including the usually dominating women teams from Norway and Sweden chose to skip races due to pandemic concerns. For this reason, some question whether Diggins’ overall title should have an asterisk.
According to writer Peggy Shin, Diggins is adamant that her victories this season deserve no such negative demarcation. She pointed out that even in non-pandemic years, cross country skiers frequently miss or skip races. Injuries, illnesses, overtraining, any number of variables can keep athletes from competing. So every win deserves an asterisk. Or none at all.
The only other American to win the cross country ski world cup title was Olympic silver medalist Bill Koch, who won it in 1982. He was an early adopter of skate skiing, which was an advantage against competitors as it was a significantly faster technique compared to classic skiing.
If you know anything about cross country skiing at the world cup level, the notion of an asterisk for specific circumstances in such a grueling season-long challenge is frankly ridiculous. These competitors and their teams are to be admired and celebrated.