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Fifth in the World for the Women's 4x5km Team Relay

By Leann Bentley
March, 2 2023
team realy
Rosie Brennan, Jessie Diggins, Hailey Swirbul and Julia Kern after the 4x5km team relay at World Championships. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Leann Bentley)

Hailey Swirbul, Rosie Brennan, Jessie Diggins and Julia Kern crossed the finish line in fifth place today, securing a top-five result on the World stage for the 4x5km team relay. 

On a cold, crisp day with fresh snow on a grueling course which has 200m of climbing, two classic racers and two skate racers from each country put their best effort into the 4x5km team relay. 

Sweden, who were the strongest favorites of the day, led off the line with quick tempo and instant speed. Swirbul of the U.S. led the first leg of the race, claiming her spot in the lead pack right behind Germany. Sweden, Norway, Germany and Finland battled for spots through 3km, until the pack started to spread out. Swirbul kept position and came through the roaring Planica stadium in seventh place, less than 40 seconds out of first. 

Tagging off to the next classic skier, Swirbul had a clean tag to teammate Brennan. Brennan was ready to chase, and chase she did. Closing the gap second by second, she charged up the icy uphills and worked the glazed-over downhills. Falling as she entered the stadium and breaking a pole was not part of the plan, but Brennan, as she does, fought back and skied into stadium with all she had, tagging off teammate Diggins to start the skate portion of the relay. 

Diggins, who just two days ago brought home the first ever individual World Championships gold medal for the United States of America in the 10km skate, was ready to skate once again. Right off the bat, Diggins chased. Closing the gap at every kilometer, the team went from a minute back to around 30 seconds, showcasing her speed in short distances. 

With several broken poles in the race, including a broken pole from Ebba Andersson of Sweden, which cost them more than 15 meters and taking away their lead, the women in the field fought hard. 

Diggins skied into the stadium with ferosity and tagged off the U.S. anchor leg, Kern. Kern showed her speed early and did not hold back. With Norway, Germany and Sweden gaining a more significant lead in the last 5km of the day, Kern chased down the pack and was never far behind. As she came into the stadium, her teammates ran to the finish corral to cheer her across the line. With open arms, Diggins, Brennan and Swirbul made room in their arms for Kern to fall into. 

At the end of the day, the women were fifth across the line, a solid result for the U.S. team. The podium featured Norway in first, Germany in a strong second and Sweden in third. 

"Each of us gave it our all today, said Kern. "That is all you can ask for. I'm just super excited for this team and the effort we put in out there." For Diggins, the sentiment was the same. "All you can give is all that you've got, and this is a team that really gives it their all."

Tomorrow, the men will race the 4x10km team relay. Watch LIVE on