A sea of skiers take off in a mass start as the 10k skate gets underway in frigid Rybinsk. Somewhere in the mass of athletes is the U.S. Ski Team's Jessie Diggins, who finished fifth. (Getty Images/AFP-Natalia Kolesnikova)
RYBINSK, Russia (Feb. 4) – World Cup rookie Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN) continued her strong Eastern European tour scoring another career best finishing fifth in a frigid 10k mass start skate race in Rybinsk. Diggins, who had been sixth in the Moscow sprint two days earlier, bided her time in the massive pack before picking her way to the front, finishing 26.3 seconds behind Norway’s Marit Bjoergen. Canada’s Devon Kershaw won the men’s 15k. A skiathlon (combining freestyle and classic legs) is scheduled for Sunday in Rybinsk, where temperatures plunged below zero for the race.
Jessie Diggins scored her second straight career best finishing fifth in a 10k mass start skate race. It was just her sixth individual World Cup start andfirst mass start.
Diggins' finish is the best U.S. women's distance result in modern World Cup history
Temperatures were below zero in Rybinsk.
Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) opted to sit out the mass start to rest after being ill earlier in the week. She was expected to compete in Sunday’s skiathlon. She remained fourth in the FIS World Cup overall.
The Rybinsk weekend will end with a skiathlon (freestyle and classic) Sunday.
QUOTES Jessie Diggins For some reason, I've been racing well in the cold - must be because I'm from Minnesota! I'm used to racing in some pretty cold weather. The skis were phenomenal today as I continue to be impressed by our wax techs and coaching staff. They absolutely nailed the wax and I felt like I was flying on the downhills!
The start of the race was more relaxed for me because I was at the back of the mass start. So I spent the first lap playing it chill and trying to stay out of tangles. Then I played the catch-up game, which I really like in tough races because focusing only on catching one person at a time keeps your mind off the pain. I must have had some extra energy today, or maybe I just wanted to get to the warmup tent quickly, but either way the last lap seemed to go by much faster!
I'm definitely a little shocked by the results of the past two races, but I've been super happy and having fun over on the World Cup. Whenever I'm happy I tend to race faster. Just loving the job!
Chris Grover, Head Cross Country Coach Jessie got off to a good start but had to work her way through the crowd for the entire race. She picked off one woman after another during the race and finally passed (Justyna) Kowalczyk on the last hill.
During the first lap was I was getting psyched for Jessie thinking she might have a top-25 finish. On the second lap I thought a top-20 might be possible. Then a top-15. I couldn't believe it. She was skiing so damned fast compared to the field in the second half of the race.
Most of our crew wrestled with the cold - numb fingers and toes - including Jessie who couldn't really feel her hands towards the end of the race. All of the other coaches and athletes are noticing Jessie for sure - many comments and congratulations. Really fun for us.