This year has become different in one way- The New York Times, stodgy home of Old Media and Journalism, decided to notice that Jessie Diggins won the Tour de Ski. Considering the frankly dour and snarky article they published in 2018 before the PyongChang Olympics, this seems like quite a turnaround for the ‘Grey Lady’.
I could carp about the Times and its limited coverage of sports that I like. I could also put some words into the mouths of those who’d downplay the significance of the win, because the powerhouse Norwegians weren’t there. The truth is, without the Norwegians (and many of the Swedes), international Nordic competition becomes a bit more interesting. And regardless, Diggins earned every inch of her win.
A few years ago I had the chance to see Ms Diggins in person in Stillwater MN. A couple hundred people showed up to listen to her and some of her old coaches do a presentation. A high school coach of Jessie’s described how she analyzed herself just after a recent ski they did together. The specificity on crafting every part of her body into a Nordic race machine seemed at odds with her cheery demeanor. I thought then that underneath the glitter and perky dance moves is a stone-cold competitor.
Ten months later, Diggins and Randall won the Olympic gold medal in the freestyle team sprint.
Somewhere in a Pixar universe, there’s movie about a person with Arnold Schwarzenegger-size determination finding happiness in the body and personality of a girl in the Midwest who wears glitter and dances to pop tunes. What else could such a person do to express themselves except push their body insanely on skis one day and bake muffins the next?
Diggins takes home an awesome win, the notice of the New York Times (hold the snark), and a block of Gruyere cheese the size of a small boulder. Congratulations to Jessie, Rosie, the women’s team, and the many others who made it possible.