To my readers: This is a truly historic achievement for an American in the sport of cross-country skiing!
On Tuesday, American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins made history becoming the 2021 Women’s World Cup Overall Champion*. The 29- year-old Minnesota native is only the second American and the first American woman to win the Overall title (American cross-country skiing legend and pioneer Bill Koch earned the title in 1982). Diggins is the first non-Norwegian woman to win the World Cup Overall title since Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk in 2013.
Throughout the 2020-21 season, Diggins improved upon her 2017-18 World Cup tour, where she finished second in the season’s Overall standings. She dominated the 2020-21 season, earning nine podium appearances and four first place finishes, and became the first American to win the 2021 FIS Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany this past January.
This is not the first time Diggins has made her claim to fame. In the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Diggins and teammate Kikkan Randall made history winning the first U.S. Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing with their team sprint victory.
While making history on the tracks, Diggins is using her platform and reputation to promote action on climate change. She recently joined the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization Protect Our Winters (POWP) that brings together athletes, scientists, and business leaders to advance non-partisan policies that protect our world today and for future generations. At Thursday’s post-victory press conference, I asked Jessie about her climate change advocacy and any specific plans to continue her work.
(Take time to learn more about the #crushit4climate campaign and how to get involved on Jessie’s Instagram post (@jessiediggins), or by visiting the POW website at www.protectourwinters.org. To learn more about Jessie’s journey to the 2018 Olympic Gold experience and the physical and personal struggles to get there, read her 2019 memoir “Brave Enough”.)
So, the 2020-21 season has come to an end. It was unimaginable to me last November amid the COVID pandemic that an almost normal season would be possible. But I am glad it was, and it was an incredible season for Jessie Diggins. As the off-season is upon us, I wait with bated breath for the 2021-22 World Cup tour and, of course, the 2022 Winter Olympics set for February 4th – 20th in Beijing, China. Can Jessie continue her domination in the World Cup tour? Can she repeat her 2018 Olympic performance? I guess I’ll just have to wait.
*The World Cup Overall title is based on all results from an entire season of competitions across different distances and techniques (classic style and skate technique).