Norway’s national ski teams didn’t take part in the tough long-distance Tour de Ski this New Year, because of Corona infection concerns. The Norwegian skiers are nonetheless hailing the winner of the women’s race, Jessica Diggins of the US, even calling her “a blessing for the sport.”
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, who’s been knocked out of all competition this year because of health issues, thinks Diggins’ victory will help boost US interest in the sport. Diggins, who overcame eating disorders and has worked hard to reach the top levels of cross-country skiing, is also viewed as an inspiration for many.
“She’s probably the one I cheer on the most apart from the Norwegian women,” skier Ragnhild Haga told newspaper Aftenposten. Haga called Diggins’ victory “very well-deserved,” after she won the overall Tour de Ski 2021 last weekend ahead of Julija Stupak of Russia and Ebba Andersson of Sweden.
Diggins also took part in a gathering of the Norwegian women’s national ski team five years ago, and the team’s former coach Vidar Løfshus is glad she was there. “She’s a blessing for the sport,” Løfshus told Aftenposten. “She gives a lot of herself and isn’t your average competitor. She’s the kind of athlete we want in the sport.”