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History repeats itself for US skiers Diggins, Brennan, who claim gold and silver again

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: January 6
  • Published January 5

Rosie Brennan competes on her way to finishing second in a Tour de Ski, women's 10-kilometer freestyle, interval start cross-country ski event, in Dobbiaco (Toblach), Italy, on Tuesday. (Alessandro Trovati / Associated Press)

American skiers Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan landed another 1-2 punch Tuesday at the Tour de Ski.

For the second straight race, the two grabbed the gold and silver medals in World Cup racing, this time doing it in a 10-kilometer freestyle race in Toblach, Italy.

Two days earlier, Diggins and Brennan made history by staging America’s first 1-2 cross-country finish history in a 10K pursuit race in Val Mustair, Switzerland. After a day off in the grueling eight-race, 10-day race series, history repeated itself.

Diggins defeated Brennan by 14.8 seconds for her second straight Tour de Ski victory. Though Brennan didn’t have quite enough to match her teammate’s pace, the Anchorage woman had more than enough to hold onto her overall World Cup lead.

Brennan, a 32-year-old who trains at Alaska Pacific University, owns top-5 finishes in seven of this season’s nine World Cup races, with two victories and two second-place finishes.

“I left it all out there and am happy with the way I skied,” Brennan said by email. “If I’m going to lose a race, losing it to a teammate is not a bad way to go! ... I feel that I am holding up well at the halfway mark of the Tour and really hope I can continue to fight hard in the second half. We made it another day with America 1-2 and that in itself is something to celebrate!”

Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher provided more reason for the Americans to celebrate — he finished a career-best 14th in the men’s 15K freestyle race. His previous best came in late November when he recorded the 24th-fastest time in a pursuit race in Finland.

It’s the first Tour de Ski and the first season on the World Cup circuit for Schumacher, a 20-year-old Alaska Winter Stars skier who last season became America’s first individual gold-medalist at the World Junior Championships.

““It feels good to have that validation, and fun to have it midway through the tour,” Schumacher told U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “Definitely starting to feel the fatigue, but I’ve got a lot of energy left to finish this out with hopefully a few more good races.”

APU’S Scott Patterson joined Schumacher in the top 25 by placing 22nd. Alexander Bulshunov won the race in 32:49.6 to lead a Russia sweep of the top five places, with Schumacher finishing 51.3 seconds back and Patterson 1:38.1 back.

Diggins won the women’s race in 25:14.5 and led at every split.

From left, second-second Rosie Brennan of Anchorage, winner Jessie Diggins of Minnesota and third-place Ebba Andersson of Sweden on the Tour de Ski podium Tuesday. (Alessandro Trovati / Associated Press)

It was the second straight victory and fourth podium finish in four Tour de Ski races for Diggins, the Minnesota skier who won Olympic gold in the team sprint with Anchorage’s Kikkan Randall at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Finishing third Tuesday was Sweden’s Ebba Andersson. Joining Diggins and Brennan in the top 25 were three more Americans, including Anchorage’s Hailey Swirbul, who was 20th.

Absent from the field were skiers from world power Norway, which dropped out of World Cup competition after the opening series of races in November due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus.

Skiers stay in Toblach for a pursuit race Wednesday before heading to Val di Fiemme, Italy, for the final three races of the Tour de Ski.

Jessie Diggins of the USA celebrates after winning a Tour de Ski, women's 10-kilometer freestyle, interval start cross-country ski event, in Dobbiaco (Toblach), Italy, on Tuesday. (Alessandro Trovati / Associated Press)

Ebba Andersson, the winner of the women’s bronze medal, was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this story.