MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The start of the winter Olympics in Sochi is just days away.
The opening ceremony is set for Thursday, and about 19 Minnesotans will be part of Team USA.
One of those athletes grew up in Afton.
At 22, Jessie Diggins is now the youngest member of the U.S. cross country women’s team.
While her parents are headed to Sochi to cheer her on, those with the Minnesota Youth Ski League made a video for Diggins, featuring young skiers with handwritten signs reading: “I ski like Jessie.”
“We love Jessie. The Minnesota Youth Ski League is very proud of her. She started with us when she was 4 years old,” said Amy Cichanowski, the league’s executive director.
She says by the time Diggins was a teenager at Stillwater High School, she knew cross country skiing was more than just a hobby, it would be her career.
“The thing that is really unique about Jessie is she loves what she is doing so much that it is a joy to watch her, and it makes her a good role model for children,” Cichanowski said.
Just last week, Diggins won a silver medal at the under-23 Nordic World Championships in Italy.
In the Olympics, she will be racing in at least three events, including a skate sprint, a relay race, and the 15-kilometer skiatholon.
“It is really exciting to see her do well,” Cichanowski said. “I think it will be a big boost to our skiing and participation at the youth level here in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Youth Ski League has about 1,600 members.
There are chapters all over the state, teaching kids as young as 3 years old how to cross country ski.
Diggins writes a blog for them, where she answers kids’ questions.