Jessie Diggins returned Wednesday to the cross-country course on the Beijing Olympics, and to the occasion that made her a family title: the ladies’s crew dash. But with a new teammate and a totally different sort of snowboarding fashion, Diggins couldn’t write the identical ending she crafted 4 years in the past on the Pyeongchang Games.
Diggins and her new accomplice, Rosie Brennan, completed fifth in the race, unable to maintain tempo in the ultimate kilometer with a lead group that sped away and claimed the medals. The German pair of Katharina Hennig and Victoria Carl received the gold, adopted by the Swedes and the Russians.
When Diggins and Kikkan Randall received the occasion in 2018, they have been the primary Americans 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 in the race’s closing moments. It was memorably captured by an announcer’s name: “Here comes Diggins!”
That Olympic race was in the freestyle methodology, although, a fashion that almost all carefully resembles the angled actions of curler skating, versus the classical fashion, in which skiers should preserve their skis parallel, typically in manicured paths. Since the Olympic crew dash alternates types each 4 years, Wednesday’s race was in the classical fashion.
Many skiers specialize in one self-discipline, and Diggins, who is way extra snug snowboarding freestyle, spent a lot of her coaching attempting to strengthen her classical approach. But she couldn’t make up the distinction in experience to efficiently defend her gold medal.
In 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 “sprint” label. The semifinal was held two hours earlier than the ultimate, so every athlete in the ultimate had sprinted across the loop six occasions earlier than the medals have been awarded.
Diggins arrived the Beijing Games as a chief of the U.S. crew, a pathfinder who had confirmed different American cross-country skiers that they might compete with the Scandinavians who’ve lengthy dominated the game.
She led by instance nearly instantly, profitable a bronze medal in the ladies’s freestyle dash days after the Games started. It was the primary particular person Olympic medal received by an American girl in cross-country snowboarding. Brennan completed in fourth place; the mixed American efficiency would have been unimaginable however a few years in the past.
Just a few days later, Diggins and Brennan have been a part of the American crew in the ladies’s 4×5-kilometer relay, a race cut up between classical and freestyle. With their teammates Hailey Swirbul and Novie McCabe, they positioned sixth, behind a acquainted European lineup.
At occasions, it appeared as if Diggins and Brennan would discover themselves on the rostrum throughout Wednesday’s race. Both skiers excel in particularly chilly climate, and the circumstances in Zhangjiakou delivered: The temperature firstly was 6 levels Fahrenheit.
The Americans 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 in the highest 4 till the ultimate trade, when Diggins was unable to maintain up in the ultimate loop.