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Should Jessie Diggins Be On The A-Team?

No, not that A-Team, although that’s an amusing idea. I saw some discussion in the comments over at FasterSkier about whether Jessie Diggins ought to have been named to the US A Team rather than the B Team.

Let’s be clear up front that this isn’t the sort of question you can answer by just looking at FIS points. But some data may provide some useful perspective. Let’s start by looking at a collection of women near Diggins’ age (born between 1990-1992). The following two tables summarize the data for sprint and distance events from this past season:

Top Young Female Distance Skiers
Name Median Best Three
WENG Heidi 43.63 34.82
LAHTEENMAKI Krista 49.13 12.45
HAGA Ragnhild 63.25 42.53
SLIND Kari Oeyre 70.96 43.67
HAGEN Martine Ek 72.50 43.67
DIGGINS Jessica 72.77 45.57
RINGWALD Sandra 73.05 55.95
JACOB Helene 74.66 48.17
SOBOLEVA Elena 76.42 57.60
OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad 76.74 28.80


Top Young Female Sprinter
Name Median Best Three
LAHTEENMAKI Krista 39.62 29.25
FALLA Maiken Caspersen 43.14 11.10
KOLB Hanna 46.72 33.14
OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad 53.93 40.09
BRODIN Hanna 58.63 44.68
SLIND Kari Oeyre 64.39 48.57
ANGER Lucia 68.80 56.13
OJASTE Triin 70.21 49.57
RINGWALD Sandra 83.68 70.69
GRUNDVALL Maria 85.24 76.96
WENG Heidi 86.50 66.21
GODOVANICHENKO Daria 87.23 61.18
DIGGINS Jessica 87.86 80.22

I’ve shown the median FIS points result for last season, along with the average of each skier’s best three results. As usual, all sorts of caveats apply regarding the crudeness of FIS points as a measure of performance. Still, this is an accomplished group of skiers to be lumped together with. I think it’s fair to say that Weng and Lahteenmaki stand out in distance skiing. Indeed, Lahteenmaki is sort of an unusual case as she’s already demonstrated an ability to perform at the WC level over the course of an entire season. There’s no question where she’ll be racing next season. And of course Falla (and a few other of these sprinters) will be WC regulars next season as well.

Then you have this large group of other talented young Norwegian women coming up (Weng, Haga, Slind, Hagen, Oestberg). It’s not exactly like they’re hurting for talent at the moment, so I guess it’s a good thing they get so many start allotments, since they have the talent to back it up on the women’s side.

Whether or not it’s a good idea to send Diggins to Europe for a full season may or may not have anything to do with how other nations deal with their own talented young women. But I think it’s pretty hard to argue that Diggins is at quite the same level as folks like Weng, Slind, Kolb, Falla, let alone someone like Lahteenmaki.


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