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Diggins, Bjornsen make US history at Tour de Ski

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: January 8, 2018
  • Published January 7, 2018

The American women added a page to their own history book Sunday on the final day of the demanding Tour de Ski.

For the first time in the 11-year history of the nine-day, six-race series, two Americans cracked the top 10 in the final standings. Minnesota's Jessie Diggins placed third and Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen placed ninth.

Diggins was a marvel in Sunday's finale, the infamous Alpe Cermis hillclimb in Val di Fiemme, Italy, a race with nearly 500 meters of climbing over nine kilometers.

Skiers started the pursuit-style race in order of their position in the overall standings. Diggins started fourth, 10 seconds behind third-place Krista Parmakoski of Finland, and managed to close the gap to become the first American to make the final podium at the Tour de Ski.

"That's one grueling race series," Diggins said in a race report from the U.S. Ski Team.

Bjornsen started eighth but slipped to ninth place overall. Liz Stephen of Vermont, a master of hillclimbs, recorded Sunday's fifth-fastest time to vault from 21st to 16th overall, and Anchorage's Rosie Brennan went from 26th to 24th.

"Wow, it feels incredible to finish that tour," Bjornsen said by email. "… The tour is such a tough event, because you are racing day after day, and you have those amazing and disappointing races throughout the event. But you just have to stay positive and keep fighting for every second."

Heidi Weng of Norway claimed her second straight Tour de Ski title by passing teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg late in the climb.

In the men's competition, Switzerland's Dario Cologna won the hillclimb and the overall title. Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway skies his way up from sixth place to claim the silver medal, and Canada's Alex Harvey, who started fourth, took the bronze.

Patrick Caldwell of Vermont was the only American man to complete the Tour, finishing 38th overall.

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