Jan 26, 2022 - Sports

Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins is focused on the moment, not gold

Jessie Diggins, 30, burst on the scene in Pyeongchang when she and teammate Kikkan Randall became the first Americans to win cross-country gold thanks to an incredible .19 second finish.

The big picture: The Minnesota native is also only the second American to win a medal in cross country in any Olympics and in January of 2021 made history again as the first American to win the multistage Tour de Ski, per Sports Illustrated.

  • Diggins says she's not focused on gold, or even medaling in Beijing. “I have not set outcome goals for the Olympics,” Diggins told SI. “However, there are a lot of process goals. It’s this theme of trying really hard not to get stuck on the results.”
  • Instead, she said, she focuses on the moment and each individual race. When she won gold, she did not realize she did not realize it until she saw her teammates crying.
  • "Before I could even walk, I was in my dad's backpack as my parents skied different trails around Minnesota," she told NBC. "I owe everything in my career to them."
  • Diggins has embraced her passion for activism since winning gold, working closely with two organizations: one that combats climate change and one that helps treat people with eating disorders.

The event: Cross-country skiing has been part of the Winter Olympics since the first Games in 1924, though a women's program wasn't added until 1952. The sport includes two styles and six competition formats.

  • Styles: Classic requires the skis to remain parallel in pre-made tracks, while freestyle looks more like ice skating, and is much faster.
  • Formats: There are four individual competitions and two in teams, with men and women covering different distances. Two events use freestyle, two use classic and two combine both.

Go deeper: Jessie Diggins is on a quest for more than medals (SI)

Go deeper