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Cross-country skiing: Diggins, Brennan keep U.S. ski success rolling

2022 Beijing Olympics - Cross-Country Skiing - Women's Sprint Free Qualification - National Cross-Country Centre, Zhangjiakou, China - February 8, 2022. Rosie Brennan of the United States in action.

2022 Beijing Olympics - Cross-Country Skiing - Women's Sprint Free Qualification - National Cross-Country Centre, Zhangjiakou, China - February 8, 2022. Rosie Brennan of the United States in action. (Lindsey Wasson, Reuters)


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ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Bronze medallist Jessica Diggins got some help on her crusade to keep American Olympic cross-country skiing relevant on Tuesday as teammate Rosie Brennan finished fourth in a hugely competitive field, just outside the podium.

Diggins, who together with Kikkan Randall ended a U.S. cross-country medal drought of over four decades when she took team sprint gold in 2018, was delighted to have another American at her side as they competed against three Swedes and a Swiss racer in the six-woman final.

"She was amazing, she's skiing so well," Diggins said of Brennan, whose performance fell just 1.36 seconds short of a podium finish.

"I mean, I do know how that feels. I'm so proud of Rosie, she's doing so well. And she's doing everything right, I'm so proud to be her teammate, so I think it bodes well."

The shock Diggins-Randall gold in Pyeongnchang ushered in a new era for the sport in America, and Diggins has since garnered enormous respect for her performances on the circuit, particularly in the lung-bursting sprint disciplines.

The reward has been a new Olympic medal, and the 30-year-old from Minnesota was quick to pay tribute to the people who put her in position to succeed.

"This is absolutely wild, and I'm just so grateful. That's the overwhelming emotion because it's taken so much from so many people," she said.

"We had amazing skiers, we have amazing teammates who have helped me and pushed me, and we have an amazing support staff, so many volunteers, amazing coaches, so this really belongs to everyone."

The new-found success brings with it pleasant dilemma as the United States will have to pick from the likes of Diggins, Brennan and sprint specialist Hannah Halvorsen for the team sprint event on Feb. 16, but Diggins said she would be ready.

"(I'm) just (going to) take as good care of myself as I can and recover, and get ready for all the rest of the races."

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Philip O'Connor

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