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Johnson, Wright Top Ten in Soldeu

By Sierra Ryder
March, 15 2023
Bella Wright Smiles at the Cameras After a Great Run in Andorra (Getty Images, David Ramos)

To cap off the final downhill race of the season, Breezy Johnson and Isabella Wright landed in the top-10, in sixth and seventh - a top result of the 2022-23 season for for the downhill duo.

“The speeds were definitely faster for me so I kind of felt like there were a couple of mistakes,” said Johnson. “But overall I am happy with my skiing today!”

Wright and Johnson ran third and fourth in the start order on the hot, spring day in Soldeu. When Wright came down the track, she was in second, Johnson bumped her down by just fourth hundredths of a second when she crossed the finish line. The two looked on to the coming racers hoping their spots would stick and they did! At the end of the day, Wright's seventh place was her best result of the season. 

“It was a very close race between third through the top 10,” said Wright. “But I am happy that I put a run today top to bottom, there were some things I can of course fix and improve on.”

This race also marks the end of the season for Johnson and Wright. A season filled with ups and downs but they ended it on a high note and look forward to what's next. 

“This has definitely been my toughest season ever,” said Johnson. “I think just coming back and dealing with new staff, just changing course conditions from what I'm used to and my recent injury was hard,” said Johnson. “I'm just happy to end the downhill season on this note,” said Wright.

The speed women will now take some deserved time off before they ramp back up to prepare for the next season.

“I just want to thank everybody who's followed along all season. It has not been the easiest season but I'm really grateful to everybody who stuck around for me and everybody else and I hope we have more to show next season,” said Johnson.


Women's downhill


Women’s super-G – 5:00 a.m. (
Men’s super-G – 6:30 a.m. (

Ganong Takes One Final Downhill

By Sierra Ryder
March, 15 2023
Ganong Takes Final Run of the Career (Getty Images, Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom)

On Wednesday, March 15, in Soldeu, Andorra, Travis Ganong kicked out of the start for the last time. 

“It was a pleasure being a downhiller for the last 17 years and not many people get to do this, especially at this level,” said Ganong. “Fighting for podiums and winning races and I mean, it's just unbelievable being in this place and being a contender.”

Ganong announced his retirement from World Cup ski racing prior to the Aspen, Stifel America’s Downhill, with the intentions of making World Cup Finals his final race.

“It was a little weird being at the start knowing that I would never be there again,” said Ganong.  “I tried, and I pushed pretty good in some sections. I wasn't really willing to push 100%. But I'm happy to just have one last downhill.”

Ganong finished in 20th place and was cheered into the finish by family and friends who flew all the way across the globe to bring in the longtime racer. He was quickly doused in a bottle of champagne from his fiancé, Marie-Michèle Gagnon, as he approached the rest of his family. Many hugs, posters and love were given in the finish to show appreciation to the racer’s storied career.

“You get to the point where you've taken so much risk in your career and as a racer, and you've pulled off some amazing results and you start to balance the risk versus reward and you realize there's way more in life and then racing,” said Ganong.

Ganong may be done with racing, but his love for skiing runs deep. You will likely see Ganong in mountains all over the world participating in backcountry skiing, resort skiing, and more outdoor adventures to fill his newfound time.

“I am super excited to not be stressed out all winter long and just enjoy the mountains, the winter, get back to the roots of the passion of why I started skiing in the first place which is more around free skiing and connecting with nature and sharing moments in the mountains with friends,” said Ganong.

The winner of the final downhill of the season went to Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr, second and third went to two German skiers, Romed Baumann and Andreas Sander.  Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team athletes’ Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Jared Goldberg also raced and ended up in 17th and 18th position.


Men's downhill


Women’s super-G – 5:00 a.m. (
Men’s super-G – 6:30 a.m. (

Kern Sixth in Drammen City Sprints

By Leann Bentley
March, 14 2023
Julia Kern
Julia Kern double poles her way to a win in the semi-final heat in the Drammen City Sprints. (NordicFocus)

The Drammen City Sprints are unlike anything on the World Cup circuit and today Julia Kern crossed the finish line in sixth place, adding another top-10 result to her hefty resume. 

Shutting down main street, trucking in snow, setting the 1.2k course with four lanes of classic track, the Drammen City Sprints bring some of the most exciting ski racing to the center stage. With fans lining the entire course, flags hanging from apartment buildings balcony's to the start and finish on the steps of a famous church, the atmosphere is just electric. With only two more weeks of World Cup racing left, the best athletes in the world are giving it their all until the very end. 

For the U.S., Kern led the day for the women and Ben Ogden led for the men. Kern initially qualified in 17th, right behind teammate Rosie Brennan (16th) and Jessie Diggins (14th). Today, Kern was focused on one thing: her double pole. 

"Where do I begin!" Kern said in her post-race voice memo. "Drammen is one of the coolest city sprints I saw growing up and I always dreamed about racing here, so to be here and to qualify - something that a few years ago felt out of reach - it was really cool. Huge props to the team, the snow was tricky and we were testing everything from hard wax, to klister to zero's today. Just huge props to our tech team!"

In the semis, Kern won after being in the back of the pack at the beginning of the downhill to finishing in first, best in part to her strong double pole and wickedly fast skis. Next, the final. With a packed heat, Kern stayed with the pack until a small gap began to form on the second to last final climb. Tactically, she knew she wanted to be in the mix to out-sprint her competitors on the downhill into the finish but ski racing is ski racing! Kern crossed the line in sixth place and will now rest and reset before Falun.

"For my races, I was happy to see my double pole finish was my strength of the day. Going into the semis, I knew it would be a stacked heat but I was able to ski the downhill really well and push around the corners and then slingshot, going from sixth to first in that downhill! In the final, anything was possible. I am really proud of how I skied and the skis I was on - thanks to my tech Eli Brown!" 

For Ogden, it was a similar story to Kern's - fast tempo, strong double pole. Qualifying in 11th place, Ogden was in the mix from the start. In his quarterfinal heat, Ogden was out of the gate fast. With his signature "Benny Shuffle", he out-sprinted his competitors from the gun and made a large gap for nearly the entire 1.2k race. Yet, on the final climb into the stadium, his competitors caught up and he finished second, enough to move onto the semis. In the semis, the story read the same. He set the pace and everyone had to give it their all to keep up. At the end, he did not advance, but his skiing was inspiring today. 

Zak Ketterson also advanced to the heats, after taking a few weeks off of the World Cup circuit and heading back home to Minnesota. Ketterson, in front of his family and fiancé, advanced to the heats. "It was my first classic sprint in a decent amount of time," said Ketterson. "Drammen is one of those events that you get really excited about and I was really stoked to qualify and do it here on a course that I struggled with in the past. It was an awesome day, make the heats, and a great amount of confidence going into the next races!" At the end of the day, Ketterson finished 23rd. 

Another highlight of the day was the first-ever World Cup start for Sammy Smith, the youngest athlete on the team. A multi-talented athlete, Smith plays soccer, was named to the U-17 World Cup soccer team, is an avid runner and freestyle skier. Smith did not advance today in Drammen but finished 36th on the biggest stage. 

For the rest of the women's team, Brennan was in the fastest quarter-final heat of the day, but did not advance to the semis and finished the day in 14th. For Diggins, coming off the 50k just a few days earlier, did not advance from the heats and ended the day in 21st. Hailey Swirbul was just off the brink of qualifying, crossing the line in 31st. For the men, JC Schoonmaker did not advance to the heats and finished qualifiers in 37th place and Logan Diekmann was 42nd. 

Falun is next with a 10k classic, skate sprint, and 4.x5k mixed team relay! 


Ten Alpine Athletes to Compete at World Cup Finals

By Sierra Ryder
March, 13 2023
The Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team Celebrates with Mikaela Shiffrin as She Makes History (U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Mike Dawson)

Ten Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team athletes are set to compete in Soldeu, Andorra for the Alpine World Cup Finals. Across the four alpine disciplines - downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom - only the top 25 athletes per discipline in the overall rankings, qualify. 

“We are extremely proud of the athletes that will represent the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team as we close out the World Cup season in Soldeu,” said Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team Director, Patrick Riml. “We have had a historical season, highlighted by Mikaela Shiffrin’s immense success breaking record after record. Our women’s and men’s speed and technical teams continue to show growth and promise too, we are excited to see how they perform in Soldeu.”

This season, the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team has found tremendous success, highlighted by Miikaela Shiffrin’s historic 86th and 87th World Cup victory, cementing her in the history books as the greatest alpine skier of all time. Teammate Paula Moltzan has also had a career-best season in slalom and giant slalom. Moltzan had her first World Cup podium result in slalom earlier this season and then went 1-2 alongside Shiffrin in the Semmering World Cup. By sharing the podium together, Moltzan and Shiffrin became the first two American women to share a World Cup slalom podium since Marilyn and Barbara Ann Cochran went 1-2 in December of 1971. Teammate Nina O’Brien has found abundant success this season in giant slalom after her horrific crash in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. With her successful skiing, she has punched her ticket to alpine finals. 

 On the women’s speed side, Breezy Johnson continues to impress with her downhill skiing despite coming off a knee injury that sidelined her the season prior. Johnson’s top results include a top-five in St. Moritz, Switzerland and multiple top-10’s. Teammate Isabella Wright continues to make strides in the speed circuit with a pair of 11th place finishes in downhill and both will represent the United States in the World Cup Finals. 

On the men’s side, speed skiers Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Travis Ganong and Jared Goldberg will represent the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team in the downhill. Cochran-Siegle’s main focus will be downhill and super-G. From the 2022-23 season, highlights from our men’s speed team stem from Kitzbühel, Austria - the Super Bowl of alpine ski racing. On the infamous downhill track, Goldberg scored a career best fourth-place finish and Ganong grabbed a coveted spot on the podium in third - a career-goal of his. Cochran-Siegle found success in Bormio, Italy, with a fifth-place finish in the downhill and on the track in Wengen, Switzerland, he crossed the super-G finish line in sixth. 

 Tommy Ford and River Radamus will race the giant slalom event at World Cup finals and represent the U.S. tech skiers headed to Andorra. Radamus’s best result this season was a 10th place at the Alta Badia World Cup in December. Ford scored a sixth-place at the season opener in Soelden, Austria followed by a couple top-15 results, enough to secure him a spot on the finals roster.

World Cup finals are where the coveted FIS Alpine crystal globe will be awarded for each discipline, as well as the prized FIS Alpine Overall World Cup crystal globe. This season already, Mikaela Shiffrin has formally secured the overall slalom, giant slalom individual globes along with the FIS Alpine World Cup crystal globe - her fifth overall globe of her career.

This years’ World Cup Finals will also mark the end of longtime Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Travis Ganong’s ski racing career. Ganong made his formal retirement announcement prior to the speed series in Aspen, Colo., earlier this month.

 The Alpine World Cup Final races will run March 15-19.

Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team

*name, events to race

 Men’s Team:

Ryan Cochran-Siegle (downhill, super-G)
Tommy Ford (giant slalom)
Travis Ganong (downhill)
Jared Goldberg (downhill)
River Radamus (giant slalom)

Women’s Team:

Breezy Johnson (downhill)
Paula Moltzan (slalom, giant slalom)
Nina O’Brien (giant slalom)
Mikaela Shiffrin (super-G, slalom, giant slalom)
Isabella Wright (downhill)


*all times in ET

Soldeu, Andorra

March 15, 2023
Women’s downhill – 6:30 a.m. (Peacock,
Men’s downhill – 5:00 a.m. (

March 16, 2023
Women’s super-G – 5:00 a.m. (Peacock,
Men’s super-G – 6:30 a.m. (

March 18, 2023
Women’s slalom – first run 5:30 a.m. // second run 8:30 a.m.  (Peacock,
Women’s slalom – 3 p.m. (CNBC)
Men’s giant slalom – first run 4:00 a.m. // second run 7:00 a.m. (

March 19, 2023
Women’s giant slalom – first run 4:00 a.m. // second run 7:00 a.m. (Peacock,
Women’s giant slalom – 3 p.m. (CNBC)
Men’s slalom – first run 5:30 a.m. // second run 8:30 a.m. ( 

Two-Time World Championship Medalist Dierdorff Retires from Snowboardcross

By Kate Anderson
March, 13 2023
Mick Dierdorff celebrates his World Championships victory
Mick Dierdorff celebrates his 2019 World Championships victory (Getty - Sean M. Haffey)

After spending more than half his life on the competitive snowboard scene, Mick Dierdorff is ready to say goodbye. The 2018 and 2022 Olympian recently announced his retirement from snowboardcross, ending his career at the Bakuriani 2023 FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in Georgia.

31-year-old Dierdorff, a Steamboat Springs, Colorado local, has been racing at the FIS level since 2006. He competed in halfpipe and slopestyle before ultimately deciding to specialize in snowboardcross in 2007. He became a consistent presence on the NorAm podium, and was first nominated to the U.S. Snowboard Team in 2014. He broke through and found success on the World Cup circuit a few years later, landing his first podium finish at Cerro Catedral, Argentina, in 2017. Dierdorff ultimately added two more World Cup podiums to his resume in 2018 and 2021. 

His biggest triumph came in 2019, at the FIS World Championships on home soil in Utah. His years of dedication in the gym and on the race course came together, and he walked away as a double World Champion. Breaking a 14-year streak, Dierdorff became the first American man to win the individual snowboardcross title since Seth Wescott in 2005. Two days later, he did it again, winning gold with teammate Lindsey Jacobellis in the mixed team event. 

His career has been, in many ways, a love letter to his hometown of Steamboat Springs. He grew up training and competing with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and still volunteers with the club to this day. He told Team USA’s Lisa Costantini in 2022, “I’ve been in and involved with the club my whole life. Whenever they have questions for me, I always try to be there for them. It’s something that I will always be involved with — helping out kids — for the rest of my life.” 

Speaking ahead of his first Olympic appearance in 2018, he said, “Steamboat was a very special place to grow up. The Winter Sports Club in Steamboat has a lodge at the base of Howelsen Hill and there are flags from every Olympian that has been from Steamboat. I’ve been looking at that my whole life, and I always thought how cool it would be to have my name up there. That was one of the first things that hit home when I found out I made the Olympic team: I’m finally going to have my flag up there. It’s such a good feeling.”

With his teammates, Dierdorff will be remembered as a fierce friend and leader. “Mick has always led with honesty, which can be challenging when you are competing with and against your teammates and should be commended,” said snowboardcross 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold. “His work ethic both on and off the hill is apparent with his track record of results. Mick has given 100%, not only in snowboarding, but also in all the fun along the way.”

For Dierdorff’s longtime friend Hagen Kearney, his retirement is bittersweet. “It’s a special thing in any career path to walk away with close friends who turn into family,” he said. “Mick and I grew together throughout our years of racing by helping each other, having the most fun and pushing each other.”

U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Sophie Goldschmidt also offered congratulations on behalf of the entire team. She said, “We are so grateful for Mick’s years of dedication to the U.S. Snowboard Team, and so proud of what he has accomplished during his career. He will be remembered for his positive impact on his teammates and everyone around him, and will always be a part of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard family.”

Retirement doesn’t mean things will slow down, however. Dierdorff will stay busy planning his upcoming wedding to fiancée Katie, starting his own contracting business, and giving back to snowboarding as a coach with SSWSC. He’s ultimately at peace with his decision, and ready to move on. “I’m excited. Overall it’s for sure just a bunch of excitement. It’s been so fun,” he said. “No bad feelings… it’s been a good career and I’m ready for the next thing.” 

Harjo Returns to Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
March, 13 2023
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced today the return of Karin Harjo to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team as head coach of the greatest alpine skier of all time, Mikaela Shiffrin (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced today the return of Karin Harjo to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team as head coach of the greatest alpine skier of all time, Mikaela Shiffrin.

The 23-year coaching veteran Harjo comes to the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team following a successful stint as the head coach of the women’s alpine national team at Alpine Canada. While with Alpine Canada, athletes she worked with had breakthrough seasons, highlighted by Valérie Grenier’s first World Cup victory in giant slalom and Laurence St-Germain’s first World Championship medal and podium ever—a gold in slalom. 

Harjo began her coaching career in 2000 with the Timberline Atomic Summer Ski Race Camps at Mount Hood, Oregon. She quickly ascended through the ranks, joining the U.S. Ski Team as Head Western Region Coach from 2011 to 2015, then as assistant women’s World Cup tech coach from 2015 to 2017, assistant women’s World Cup speed coach from 2017 to 2022, and most recently the head coach role for Alpine Canada. 

“I am beyond excited and humbled by the opportunity to work with Mikaela in this capacity,” said Harjo. “I started my World Cup coaching career working with the U.S. women’s tech team, and have always been impressed with Mikaela’s focus, resilience and dedication to the process. Her work ethic is second to none, and I’m looking forward to working with her in this next stage of her career. The thing that strikes me the most about Mikaela is that she has already achieved so much, but she still knows there’s still room for betterment. I like to think I approach my coaching career in this way, and I’m so looking forward to working together with Mikaela and the team.” 

Shiffrin is also looking forward to the new, yet familiar, path forward. “I’m really looking forward to working with Karin again, this time more directly as my new head coach,” she reflected. “For a large part of my career, I’ve gotten to work with her here and there with her positions on the women’s tech team and then speed team in more recent years. I’ve witnessed her exceptional work ethic, her ability to work well with other coaches, and most importantly her connection and dedication to her athletes. I believe she can add a huge benefit to my program in the coming years and will provide a fresh and new way of thinking as we move forward.”

This isn’t Harjo’s first time working with Shiffrin. In fact, Harjo was an integral part of the team that supported several of Shiffrin’s 87 World Cup victories and 136 podiums, including her alpine combined gold medal at the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. 

Shiffrin added, “Karin cultivates strong team dynamics everywhere she works. For sure it will be something new to get used to, but I’m not very worried about the transition since I’ve known Karin for so long and she has always been open and honest from day one. I’m also excited to further highlight female coaches and staff within my group with Karin working alongside my mom and physio Regan [Dewhirst].”

Harjo’s path on the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit has been a storied one, as she’s broken several barriers in the sport. In 2016, she became the first woman to set a women’s World Cup technical course for the first slalom run in Flachau, Austria. In 2022, she became just the second woman to serve as a head women’s alpine coach when she joined Alpine Canada. She’ll join forces with Eileen Shiffrin—Shiffrin’s mother and longtime coach—as one of only a little over a handful of women coaches on the World Cup circuit. 

“We couldn’t be happier to have Karin back with the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team, now in this pivotal leadership role. She’s a great technical coach, connects well with athletes and pushes them to be their best, while creating a strong team environment,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport Anouk Patty. “Having two women coaching the best woman skier in history is momentous, and will hopefully pave the way for the future generation of women in coaching roles—in snowsports and beyond.”

Harjo and her husband Randy Pelkey are based in Underwood, Washington, near Timberline at Mount Hood, Oregon, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Official Training Site. 

Harjo will finish the remainder of the World Cup season with Alpine Canada and then will join Shiffrin and the team in Kvitfjell, Norway in April for their upcoming spring testing camp.

Day Two of Snowboardcross World Cup Results

By Carly Margulies
March, 12 2023
Senna Leith Racing
Senna Leith Racing in Sierra Nevada (FIS)

On March 12th, the men's and women's snowboardcross team completed their second day of back to back races at the Sierra Nevada World Cup. After both teams had a respectable competition the day before, they were set to drop for day two under sunny and pristine conditions. 

Lindsey Jacobellis had just come off of a bronze medal the day before, and was hungry for another podium. Jacobellis was able to secure third place in the quarterfinals, but unfortunately just missed the cut to make it onto the semifinals. The quarterfinals saw Jacobellis racing against Eva Adamczykova of the Czech Republic, Jana Fischer of Germany, and Lara Casanova of Switzerland. Adamczykova and Fischer both moved on to the semifinals. 

After the event concluded, Jacobellis landed herself in ninth place. Following her was Faye Gulini and Stacy Gaskill both taking 13th overall, and Brianna Schnorrbush in 17th. 

On the men's side, both Senna Leith and Nick Baumgartner placed 17th overall and third in their heats, but unfortunately were not able to make it onto the semifinals. Jake Vedder finished fourth in his heat and 25th overall. Hagen Kearney, Connor Schlegel, Tyler Hamel, and Cody Winters each ranked third in their heats and finished the day off in 33rd. 


Women's Results

Men's Results


Radamus Top American in Kranjska Gora GS

By Courtney Harkins
March, 12 2023
River Radamus Kranjska Gora
River Radamus skis to a top 20 in Kranjska Gora. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom - Stanko Gruden)

River Radamus was the top Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete in the giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, finishing 17th. 

Tommy Ford and George Steffey also scored points, finishing 21st and 26th, respectively. It was Steffey's second career World Cup points score, after snagging points in the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup at the end of February. 

Brian McLaughlin did not qualify for a second run. 

It was another day of difficult conditions, seen through the times, as the snow in Europe has been minimal, leading to a lot of salting and minimal slipping of the track. It was easy to see how the skiers that typically ran in the top five to seven, had an advantage over the later starters. 

The podium was nearly identical to Saturday's giant slalom, featuring the same men in a different order. Marco Odermatt of Switzerland won the race again, with Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway in second and Alexis Pinturault of France was third. 

Next up, the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team members that finished the season in the top 25 of their discipline will head to Soldeu, Andorra for World Cup Finals. 

Men's giant slalom

A Few Good Turns

By Megan Harrod
March, 12 2023
Shiffrin family 87
Mikaela Shiffrin sits with her family after winning her 87th World Cup victory, breaking Ingemar Stenmark's record for World Cup wins. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Mike Dawson)

How does one summarize 87 victories over 11 years? 

It was always about just a few good turns—an approach initiated by her parents, Jeff and Eileen, and fostered and embraced by the whole family, including Mikaela Shiffrin’s older brother Taylor. Eventually, it would become the approach taken by her entire support team. And that approach would, unbeknownst to the family at the time, inspire the world and generations of skiers to come. 

It was never about 87. And it won’t be about 100 victories, if that feat ends up happening. It was always about, simply, a few good turns and the rest is history. History made. History in the making. History yet to be made. 

A two-time Olympic champion, seven-time World Champion and now, the winningest alpine ski racer of all time, Mikaela’s career can certainly be easily summed up by numberslots and lots and lots of thembut those numbers would never truly do her story justice. To know Mikaela’s story, one must attempt to fathom the years and years of blood, sweat and tears she has put into attempting to perfect her craft. And she is still well on her way in her journey for the quest for excellence. 

Like the most fluid poem or the most beautiful classical piano piece, Mikaela’s craft was always smooth and effortless. Her approach was sometimes criticized, but something many marveled at and learned from. How fast, how many disciplines, and how she could move forward after what could not so simply be summed up as a “tough few years,” but a debilitating period of suffering and heartache after the death of her father. And then, there was a public disappointment on the world stage in Beijing where Mikaela walked away capturing not gold medals, but the hearts of viewers around the globe. 

And here we are, where thousands upon thousands of a “few good turns” later, we’ve arrived at 87 in a magical place to Mikaela: Åre, Sweden. To happen here, in Åre, Sweden… 

  • Where Mikaela won her first World Cup on December 20, 2012. 
  • Where Mikaela met the young cancer survivor Emma Lundell, who made a lasting impact and is still a friend to this day, celebrating number 86 and 87 with Mikaela. 
  • Where Mikaela suffered her first major injury in 2015. 
  • Where she won three World Championships medals in 2019, and rose above exhaustion and illness to do the unthinkable and win her record fourth-straight slalom World Championships gold. 
  • Where she would attempt to return to the World Cup following the soul-crushing agony after the loss of her father, Jeff — only for the return to be delayed and the season cut short due to COVID. 
  • The home of Ingemar Stenmark. 
  • The place where she equaled Ingemar’s record, and then just one day later, reset the record—a record that stood for 34 years and most people thought would never be broken. 

Mikaela doesn’t really believe in fate, but she does acknowledge there’s something fateful about all of this. Maybe it’s the magic of Åre, Sweden or it’s the magic of Jeff looking down and reminding her that the only numbers that really matter are a few good turns. 

Diggins Third in First Ever Women's 50k

By Leann Bentley
March, 12 2023
jessie on the podium
Jessie Diggins celebrates her third place on the podium at the Holmenkollen 50k. (Nordic Focus)

"It was a beautiful day to make history," said Hailey Swirbul.

It was a historic day on the World Cup with the women racing the first ever 50k and 2023 World Champion Jessie Diggins crossed the finish line in third place. 

The Holmenkollen 50k is one of the longest running cross country ski races in the world and is known to be one of the most grueling courses on the circuit - and historically, only the men raced this course. This year, it was the women's turn. 

Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Hailey Swirbul and Alayna Sonnesyn were the four athletes to represent the U.S. on the historic start line and through the 31 miles, with over 6,000+ feet of vertical gain, contributed to one of the most exciting races we have seen all season. 

From the start, it was a test. With six total laps around the course in the metropolis of Oslo, with tens of thousands of fans camped out on the side of the trail, 32 women representing countries all around the world did what has never been done before - race the Holmenkollen 50k.

“Today was a victory for women's skiing and a victory for skiing in general," said Chad Salmela and former U.S. Cross Country Ski Team and Olympic champion Kikkan Randall said during the live broadcast. 

Through the time markers, Diggins and Brennan were in the lead pack, showcasing their strengths and pushing a fast pace. Diggins continued to pick skiers off and stayed consistent in the top three, supported by her efforts on the downhills and strong tempo on the flats and climbs. Unlike many of her competitors and supported by Randall's commentary, Diggins tuck on the downhill is lower than anyone else in the field, making her more aerodynamic and ultimately faster. With the course playing to her strengths, with a 1.5k downhill into the finish, Diggins had the tools to  finish on top.

At the halfway point in the race, there were no ski exchanges meaning that all athletes were still skiing on their original racers. But, that quickly changed on the next lap through the stadium, when the majority of the field skied into the exchange zone for a fresh pair of skis. Diggins and Brennan both exchanged quickly and gained some time on their competitors, putting nearly five seconds from the next racer.

"I was excited and honored to be part of this historical moment where women were able to do a 50k, and not just a 50k but a 50k on the hardest course we race," said Brennan. "It certainly was challenging but we did it and that was really cool."

With American fans lining the course with the signature 'USA' face paint drawn on their faces, the vibes were high and the cheering could be heard for miles. The Holmenkollen has been called one of the most electric places to race on the World Cup circuit and the athletes can agree, saying that racing this course is an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

With the atmosphere surely inspiring the skiers on course, Brennan, Swirbul, Sonnesyn and Diggins gave it everything they had. 

With a couple of kilometers left, the highlights of the day center around several points, including Diggins winning nearly every sprint bonus on course and earning more points and time toward the FIS crystal globe, to Brennan skiing a gutsy and hard race while helping set a fast pace for over 30 miles, to the younger Sonnesyn and Swirbul skiing on the biggest stage on the World Cup. 

"You have to be so methodical and confident over the long run to find success as this level," said Randall. "And today's race was about as good as it gets in ski racing."

In the end, Diggins took the advantage by tucking and drafting into the finish lane, to which she then sprinted into the finish and toed the line only .5 seconds from second and third. The day was ultimately won by Ragnhild Haga of Norway. In second was Astrid Oeyre Slind of Norway and third was our very own Diggins. 

"I was out for bonus points and skied a smart and controlled race," said Diggins. "I did the very best job I could in preparing for this race, but I did start cramping at 25k, which is pretty early on! But, I knew that I would feel this, it was not unexpected and instead I focused on what I could control. I was thrilled to find myself in the sprint-out fighting for the win, especially to battle back after all of the muscle spasms. It was such a cool thrill and stoked for the women that were on the podium with me!" 

Coming off a packed World Championships, where she competed in every race, Brennan was 13th overall. Swirbul, crossing the finish line with a huge smile across her face was 25th and Sonnesyn, who expressed how incredible it was to be on this historic start-line, was 30th. 

"I am really stoked to have checked that goal off the list," said Swirbul as she reflected on racing the 50k. "My coach calls these long distance races the 'races of royalty' and I think that really sums up what the feels like to me. I feel like a race like the 50k really embodies the spirit of nordic skiing as a whole and what it's really all about." 

"It definitely was a tough day out there but so happy for Jessie and the team!" said Sonnesyn. "I had a really good first three laps and unfortunately not everything was dialed but really proud of the effort I gave out there considering everything. So cool to be a part of the historical day - and there were so many American fans out there cheering which was really cool to hear my name being yelled, so that was really cool."

Now that the 50k is in the bank, there are two weeks left of the World Cup season. Diggins is a top contender for the overall World Cup crystal globe and the distance overall, only a few points behind Norway's Tiril Udnes Weng. Brennan is in fourth in the overall points standings, in both distance and overall. 

To cap off the day, Diggins reflects on the importance of this race. "I think it absolutely is the right message we want to send to young girls all over the world that you work just as hard as the guys, you train just as hard, you should get to race the same exact races. Today, we got a chance to show that we absolutely can do this and it was awesome." 

The team will rest before the Drammen city sprints this Tuesday, March 14. 

Women's 50k Skate Results
Overall World Cup Results