By Ren Clayton

AFTON, Minn. (WCCO) — A World Cup win this month all but solidified Jesse Diggins’ spot on the U.S. Olympic cross country ski team. And now it’s official: the Minnesota native will be an Olympian for the third time.

Diggins says she’s proud of the COVID-19 precautions Team USA is taking.

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“We’re headed in in a really good place, despite everything that’s happening the world,” she said over a virtual meeting. “I think that’s kina one of the things that the Olympics does for us: It lets us feel inspired and let go of all the stresses that we’re feeling in the moment.”

(credit: Federico Modica/NordicFocus/Getty Images)

Since winning the United States’ first Olympic medal in the sport — a gold — Diggins hasn’t slowed down. A year ago, she was the first U.S. skier to win the prestigious Tour de Ski.

She enters the 2022 games in Beijing as one of the more recognizable faces of the Team USA squad. She’s working to make the most of it.

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“It’s great to be one of the stars of Team USA, because that brings attention to mental health and climate change and these things I’ve been shouting about for four years,” she said. “People are really listening.”

Diggins grew up in Afton and graduated from Stillwater High School. The last time she was in Minnesota was in November, before she left to go compete in Europe on the World Cup circuit. She say she feels the unconditional support from her home state.

“It’s very much like, we’re going to love you and support you no matter what,” Diggins said.

Diggins’ gold medal win in PyeongChang four years ago is the stuff of legend. The incredible end to that race would be impossible to repeat. Whatever happens this time around, the champion will do her best to duplicate her signature fight.

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“Success…means crossing the finish line with nothing left in the tank and knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I left it all out there,” Diggins said. “That I feel confident I can do.”

Ren Clayton