As my ongoing pursuit of converting runners to cross country skiers continues, I’m excited to share this interview with you. At just 21 years old, Jessie Diggins is already one of the best skiers in the world. After high school, Diggins took a leap of faith and decided to forego college in order to focus on skiing. The move paid off for the 3-time Minnesota State cross country champion. The Afton resident has since gone on to win 9 U.S. Junior titles, and 5 U.S. titles. In addition, this past season she teamed up with Kikkan Randall to win the USA’s first-ever World Championships gold medal in the team sprint as well as the first-ever victory in a World Cup team sprint. To learn more about Jessie, be sure to check out her website, like her Facebook athlete page, and follow her on Twitter @jessdiggs. If that’s not enough, here’s a recent Star Tribune article by Andrew Krammer. Nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team yet; everyone has to earn it. But because of the nature of Cross Country Skiing, it’s a little harder to objectively qualify for the team…every race course is different, and different snow conditions can change the winning race time by minutes. But the USSA has published objective criteria, and to make the team you either need to be ranked top 50 in the world on the sprint or distance list, or make it based on discretion (if you were sick for the qualifying World Cups, for example), or you can be selected based on your FIS points and National ranking. Here's a LINK to the official qualifying criteria, if anyone is interested.
The Sochi medals were revealed recently. Did you take a look at them?
I saw a picture of them on Twitter, but I didn’t look too closely – I am motivated by the feeling of achieving a goal, not by the physical medal. I think my World Champs medal is in a drawer in the basement somewhere!
|Just one example of the beautiful ski trails of the world.|
When I decided to postpone college, I had a full academic scholarship to Northern Michigan University on hold, so I could take a year to try out skiing full time with a great plan B. I knew that if I didn’t enjoy it for some reason or got really injured, I could still go to school and focus on academics. And I feel so fortunate to have parents that were fully supportive of my plans, and they helped me come up with a solid plan for if I did or didn’t want to become a full-time skier. Ultimately, I think the main reason things worked out so well for me was because I truly love skiing and the lifestyle that is required of a professional athlete. I like training myself into the ground, I don’t mind living out of a suitcase, and I think traveling all over is fun and a great opportunity for a whole different kind of education, one that you just can’t get in a classroom.