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Diggins, Brennan Top 15 in First Ever Women's 50k Classic

By Leann Bentley - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
March, 9 2024
jessie diggins
Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan ski in the 50k classic mass start in Oslo, Norway. (NordicFocus)

The Holmenkollen cross country ski race stands as a pinnacle in the world of skiing, tracing its roots back to the late 1800s. Year after year, this iconic event asserts its prominence as one of the rowdiest, most attended races on the World Cup circuit, and this year was no exception. With Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan both securing spots in the top 15 and all USA racers within the top 30, the inaugural women's 50k classic was nothing short of exciting.

The day began with wax technicians and coaches getting an early start to test skis, finding the best kick and glide for the 30+ mile race. However, they weren't alone in their early prep - fans were already out in force as the sun rose over Oslo. Known for its passionate spectators, the Holmenkollen draws thousands upon thousands of fans, turning the event into a veritable national celebration, filled with cheering, drinking, fireworks - you name it, its there. The Norwegian fervor for cross-country skiing transforms the Holmenkollen into the Super Bowl of their nation and the scene was something to see. 

Today's race was exclusively for the women, with the men set to tackle the course tomorrow. Among the 39 women on the mass start line, there were four Americans: Brennan, Diggins, Laukli, and McCabe. Diggins, wearing the coveted yellow bib, led the charge alongside Brennan, currently sitting fourth overall. Despite less than ideal snow conditions, deteriorating rapidly to a sugary texture, the stage was set for a challenging race from the outset.

As the gun signaled the start, the pace was relentless. With six laps ahead, the competition was fierce, and the stakes were high. The lead pack, including eventual winner Sweden's Frida Karlsson, set a blistering pace, closely trailed by athletes from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the USA. Karlsson's decisive move over 15k from the finish left the competition trailing, but the excitment of seeing the world's best only feet away kept the momentum charging and the fans decibel levels getting even higher. 

As fatigue set in and the race drew to a close, Karlsson secured the victory, with teammate Ebba Andersson in second and Germany's Katharina Hennig in third. Diggins raced to an 11th place, Brennan 13th, Laukli 25th, and McCabe 28th, with Diggins maintaining her lead in the overall World Cup standings heading into the next race in Drammen, Norway.

Reflecting on her performance, Brennan left with a positive message, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of success in sport. "No race is defined by the results - there’s so much more that goes into having a performance and finding your best self. For me today, that was a result I’m proud of."

Tomorrow, the men will get their chance on the infamous track, with coverage starting at 4:45 a.m. ET, live on