Jessie Diggins returned Wednesday to the cross-country course on the Beijing Olympics, and to the occasion that made her a household name: the ladies’s crew dash. However with a brand new teammate and a unique sort of snowboarding model, Diggins couldn’t write the identical ending she crafted 4 years in the past on the Pyeongchang Video games.
Diggins and her new companion, Rosie Brennan, completed fifth within the race, unable to maintain tempo within the closing kilometer with a lead group that sped away and claimed the medals. The German pair of Katharina Hennig and Victoria Carl gained the gold, adopted by the Swedes and the Russians.
When Diggins and Kikkan Randall gained the occasion in 2018, they have been the primary Individuals to earn a medal in cross-country snowboarding since 1976, ending one of many longest droughts in U.S. Olympic sports activities. Diggins, snowboarding the final leg, got here from behind with a dramatic dash to the road within the race’s closing moments. It was memorably captured by an announcer’s name: “Here comes Diggins!”
That Olympic race was within the freestyle technique, although, a method that almost all carefully resembles the angled actions of curler skating, versus the classical model, wherein skiers should hold their skis parallel, typically in manicured paths. For the reason that Olympic crew dash alternates kinds each 4 years, Wednesday’s race was within the classical model.
Many skiers focus on one self-discipline, and Diggins, who is way extra comfy snowboarding freestyle, spent a lot of her coaching making an attempt to strengthen her classical approach. However she couldn’t make up the distinction in experience to efficiently defend her gold medal.
Within the crew dash, two skiers take turns in a relay, every snowboarding three legs of a 1.5-kilometer loop. It’s an endurance occasion hidden behind the “dash” label. The semifinal was held two hours earlier than the ultimate, so every athlete within the closing had sprinted across the loop six instances earlier than the medals have been awarded.
Diggins arrived the Beijing Video games as a frontrunner of the U.S. crew, a pathfinder who had showed other American cross-country skiers that they may compete with the Scandinavians who’ve lengthy dominated the game.
She led by instance virtually instantly, winning a bronze medal within the girls’s freestyle dash days after the Video games started. It was the primary particular person Olympic medal gained by an American girl in cross-country snowboarding. Brennan completed in fourth place; the mixed American efficiency would have been unimaginable however a couple of years in the past.
A couple of days later, Diggins and Brennan have been a part of the American crew within the girls’s 4×5-kilometer relay, a race break up between classical and freestyle. With their teammates Hailey Swirbul and Novie McCabe, they positioned sixth, behind a well-known European lineup.
At instances, it appeared as if Diggins and Brennan would discover themselves on the rostrum throughout Wednesday’s race. Each skiers excel in particularly chilly climate, and the circumstances in Zhangjiakou delivered: The temperature in the beginning was 6 levels Fahrenheit.
The Individuals have been in fourth place after the Brennan’s first leg, and Diggins, who excels on hills, powered to the lead on the second leg. Brennan and Diggins then stayed within the prime 4 till the ultimate change, when Diggins was unable to maintain up within the closing loop.