Jessie Diggins is the fastest woman in the world. At least on cross-country skis.
Earlier this month, Diggins, a Minnesota native who trains in Stratton, Vermont, became the first American woman to win the overall World Cup cross-country skiing title. Only American cross-country skier Bill Koch, who won the men’s title 39 years ago, has accomplished this. This is just the latest first for the trailblazing Diggins: In January, she became the first American to win the Tour de Ski, a multiday ski race modeled on the Tour de France bike race. And in 2018, she and teammate Kikkan Randall became the first American women to win an Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing.
As Diggins smashes records, she has become an icon for other female skiers around the country and the world. Her explosive speed is matched by her fun-loving public persona. She often races with paint and glitter on her face and is routinely captured on podiums jumping for joy. Diggins has also been praised for her candor about her struggles with an eating disorder, which she recounts in her new memoir, Brave Enough.
Jessie Diggins and several of her teammates on the US women’s cross-country team were guests on the Vermont Conversation in January 2018, just days before they left for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. The finals of the women’s team sprint featured what many say was the most exciting moment of the 2018 Olympics. On the final lap, Diggins was locked in a three-way contest with the top female skiers from Sweden and Norway. As Diggins battled to break past her two opponents, the announcers from NBC Sports screamed themselves hoarse capturing the thrill of the moment.
“Here comes Diggins!,” as the NBC announcers shouted over the roar of the crowd, could well be a motto for Jessie Diggins as she continues to smash records. She talks with us about her skiing, going public about her struggle with bulimia, the social and political causes that she is championing, and just what was going through her mind as she lunged for Olympic gold.