Diggins and Klæbo dominate first day of Tour de Ski with classic sprint wins

America’s Jess Diggins and Norway’s Johannes Klæbo win the women’s and men’s classic sprints on the first day of this year’s Tour de Ski, taking place across Europe from 28 December to 4 January.

By Jo Gunston
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

America’s Jess Diggins delivered the ultimate Christmas present to her family who cheered on from the sidelines as she won the first event of the Tour de Ski – the classic sprint discipline – that took place on Tuesday (28 December) in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Norway’s Mathilde Myhrvold came 2nd in the event that doubles as a World Cup, with Anamarija Lampič of Slovenia rounding out the table.

In the men’s edition, Myhrvold’s compatriot Johannes Høsflot Klæbo took the men’s title with a dominant display. The French duo of Richard Jouve and Lucas Chanavat did their best to take on the Norwegian with an attempted break on an uphill section of the course, but instead had to settle for silver and bronze, respectively.

Both Diggins and Klæbo now don the yellow leader jerseys as they head into the next race of the eight-day six-event competition – based on the format of Le Tour – which continues tomorrow with the endurance races, the 10km classic for women and 15km for men. The event will conclude with the Final Climb stage in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on 4 January 2022 while also stopping off at Oberstdorf, Germany.

US for the win

Diggins started the defence of her 2021 title in style and says she is in a happy place heading into this all-important Olympic Winter Games season. The 30-year-old is defending three other titles this year – Olympic champion (women's team sprint gold medallist with Kikkan Randall at PyeongChang 2018), overall World Cup winner and distance title holder.

“Thanks to my family for the cheering out there,” said a smiley Diggins to Eurosport post race, referring to her family with whom she’d spent Christmas in Switzerland and who were now supporting her during race time. With this win, Diggins has also pretty much guaranteed a spot at Beijing 2022, which starts 4 February.

Diggins could also be podium bound for tomorrow’s 10km classic (on Wednesday 29 December) esepcially with the absence of endurance specialist Therese Johaug from Norway who is sitting out the event, along with a number of top stars, in preparation for Beijing 2022.

“I’m going to eat a lot, drink a lot and sleep a lot,” said the American on being asked how she’s going to make it through the six races.

Sweden’s Ebba Andersson who placed third overall at last year’s Tour de Ski failed to progress past the qualifier in this year’s sprint, however, she’ll have her sights set on her favoured endurance events.

Much to the chagrin of the home crowd local favourite, Nadine Faehndrich crashed out on the first corner of the qualifier so didn’t even make it to the heat phase, let alone the semi finals and final.

Another contender, Sweden's Frida Karlsson, who has achieved top six results in the five individual competitions so far this season had a day to forget, finishing 34th but will look also look to her favoured endurance events from tomorrow.

Women’s classic sprint results

1 Jessie Diggins (USA) 3:00.12
2 Mathilde Myhrvold (NOR) 3:00.25
3 Anamarija Lampič (SLO) 3:00.42
4 Julia Kern (USA) 3:00.71

Klæbo dominant

In the men’s event Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo looks a force to be reckoned with ahead of Beijing, dominating the sprint competition in Switzerland in style and hitting the top of the World Cup rankings in the process.

Despite some big names being missing, Klæbo eased through the rounds before briefly having a tricky moment in the final when the two Frenchmen – Jouve and Chanavat – decided to take on the Scandinavian by going for a break on an uphill section of the course. The world number one accelerated easily ahead using his smooth skating skills, and went on to win the race by more than five metres.

The overall winner from the past two seasons, Russian Federation’s Alexander Bolshunov, is looking for a third consecutive title but, having been hampered by injury throughout the summer, failed to make it past the quarter finals, finishing in 17th place.

There was also disappointment for the British pair of James Clugnet and Andrew Musgrave, neither of whom made it past the qualification stage, finishing 33rd and 46th, respectively. They will be hoping there is better to come at the endurance race tomorrow.

Men’s classic sprint results

1 Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR) 2:39.04
2 Richard Jouve (FRA) 2:40.03
3 Lucas Chanavat (FRA) 2:40.30

The cross-country skiing competition at Beijing 2022 runs from 5-20 February 2022.

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