HIGHLIGHTS: U.S. snow job as Cochran-Siegle wins in Bormio, bronze for Shiffrin in Semmering, Diggins & Brennan lead Tour de Ski!

American Cross Country Skiing star Jessica Diggins

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Alpine Skiing ● The U.S. Ski Team had a December to remember, and continuing into 2021!

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who won his first career World Cup medal – a silver – in the 18 December Super-G at Val Gardena (ITA), collected his first World Cup gold in the Super-G in Bormio (ITA) last Tuesday (December 29).

Skiing eight in the order, he blasted through his run and overwhelmed the field, finishing in 1:29.43, a staggering 0.79 – for ski racing – ahead of runner-up Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT), with Adrien Sjersted (NOR) third. It was the first U.S. win in a World Cup Super-G since Bode Miller in December 2006.

Said the winner, “I skied well. I had a good approach and carried speed in a lot of sections … that middle section, I definitely skied with a good limit and just trusting that, trying to ski it smart. The speed I gained from there, I carried through the finish and had that gap.”

Cochran-Siegle, 28, skied well in the Wednesday Downhill, finishing seventh, his third career top-10 finish in a Downhill, behind winner Matthias Meyer (AUT). Kriechmayr finished second for the second day in a row by just 0.04, with Swiss Urs Kryenbuehl third, just 6/100ths behind the winner.

The women’s tour was in Semmering, Austria, with the Giant Slalom canceled due to weather and the Slalom held on Tuesday (29th). Swiss Michelle Gisin won her first career individual World Cup race, just edging Austria’s Katharina Liensberger (+0.11) and U.S. star Mikaela Shiffrin (+0.57). Shiffrin led after the first run, but had some trouble on the second, posting only the ninth-best time to drop to the bronze.

The annual Snow Queen Trophy was up for grabs in Zagreb (CRO) on Sunday – in a Slalom – with overall World Cup leader Petra Vlhova (SVK) winning her fourth race of the season, ahead of Liensberger (+0.05) and Gisin (+0.22), with Shiffrin fourth (+0.27). The men will race in a Slalom on Wednesday (6th).

Ice Hockey ● The IIHF men’s World Junior (U-20) Championships began on Christmas Day in Edmonton (CAN), with Canada (3 wins), Finland (2) and the U.S. (2) having won the last seven tournaments between them. The games are being held at Rogers Place, but with no fans allowed.

It’s going as expected, with Canada winning all four of its games in Group A, defeating Finland, 4-1, which was 3-1 overall.

In Group B, the U.S. finished 3-1, losing to Russia, 5-3, in its opener, then shutting out Austria (11-0), the Czech Republic (7-0) and Sweden (4-0). Russia finished 2-1 plus an overtime win, beating Sweden for second place in the group by 4-3.

In the quarterfinals, Canada shut out the Czechs, 3-0 and Russia defeated Germany, to set up their semifinal for Monday, a re-match of the 2020 gold-medal game. The U.S. sailed past Slovakia, 5-2, and will meet Finland, a 3-2 winner over arch-rival Sweden.

U.S. forward Trevor Zegras is the scoring leader with 15 points and is second in the tournament with six goals, just behind Canada’s Dylan Cozens (7, and 13 total points).

LugeFelix Loch continued his march toward a seventh career World Cup title at the fifth FIL World Cup of the season, in Koenigssee (GER) over the weekend.

Loch (GER) won the men’s Singles race for the sixth time in seven tries this season; his cumulative time of 1:38.218 gave him a clear win over Russian Roman Repilov (1:38.503) and Johannes Ludwig (GER: 1:38.919).

That was one-third of the German sweep, as Julia Taubitz won her fifth race in seven tries this season in the women’s Singles, finishing in 1:41.02, ahead of teammate Natalie Geisenberger (1:41.712) and Australia’s Madeleine Egle (1:41.770). Geisenberger has finished second in all seven races this season and now has a 595-591 lead over Taubitz for the seasonal lead!

In the men’s Doubles, Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won for the third time this season, ahead of teammates Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, 1:40.284 to 1:40.425. Seasonal leaders Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller (AUT) finished third in 1:40.754.

Nordic Skiing ● American star Jessie Diggins made history in 2018 as she and Kikkan Randall won the first-ever U.S. gold in Cross Country Skiing by winning the Team Sprint in PyeongChang. While Randall has retired – and has beaten cancer – Diggins has continued and is showing she’ll be a threat in Beijing in 2022 as well.

While teammate Rosie Brennan has stolen the headlines with two World Cup wins earlier this season, Diggins has risen to the top of the year-opening Tour de Ski, an annual 10-day trek through the Alps in Switzerland and Italy:

● At Val Mustair (SUI) on the 1st, she finished third (+3.41) in the 1.4 km Freestyle Sprint, , behind Swede Linn Svahn and Anamarija Lampic (SLO: +0.54), with Brennan fifth.

● On Saturday (2nd), Diggins collected another bronze, this time in the 10 km Classical Mass Start, just 0.8 behind Svahn – who won for the third time this season – and Yulia Stupak (RUS: +0.7). Brennan wasn’t far behind, in sixth (+3.4).

● On Sunday, Diggins broke through to win the 10 km Freestyle Pursuit, leading Brennan (+5.6) for a 1-2 U.S. finish, with Frida Karlsson (SWE) third. It’s the sixth career World Cup win for Diggins, 29, and her first pursuit win. Brennan collected her fourth individual World Cup medal this season.

Said the winner: “Frida was amazing and I kept trying to push the poles and be there, but I kept thinking that every lap I’m going to get dropped. I was just hanging on by a thread and I just got really excited for the downhill. I thought that maybe I could hold on, and if not, then I blow up, but it was worth a shot.”

Put it all together and Diggins is leading the Tour de Ski after three of eight legs, by five seconds over Brennan and 10 over Karlsson. The Tour heads to Toblach (ITA) on Tuesday and Wednesday and finished in Val di Fiemme (ITA) on the weekend. No American has won the Tour de Ski; Diggins is the only one to ever finish on the podium: third in 2018.

In the men’s Tour de Ski, seasonal leader Alexander Bolshunov (RUS) took off, finishing second to Federico Pellegrino (ITA) in the Sprint, then winning the 15 km Classical Mass Start and 15 km Freestyle Pursuit. Bolsuhov won easily in the Mass start, some 23.5 seconds ahead of Dario Cologna (SUI) and crushed teammate Artem Maltsev by 53.5 seconds in the 15 km Freestyle Pursuit. His lead in the Tour de Ski is already 53 second over Maltsev.

In Ski Jumping, the 69th edition of the famed Four Hills Tournament got going in Obertsdorf (GER) off the 137 m hill, with Karl Geiger (GER) posting his first win of the season, just ahead of three-time Olympic champ Kamil Stoch (POL) and Marius Lindvik (NOR).

The second stage was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) on the 142 m Grosse Olympiaschanze, with Poland’s Dawid Kubacki also winning for the first time in 2020-21, ahead of seasonal leader Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) and Piotr Zyla (POL).

In Innsbruck (AUT) on Sunday (3rd), it was Stoch – looking for a third career Four Hills win – who took the event on the 128 m hill, ahead of Anze Lanisek (SLO) and Kubacki. With one stage left at Bischofshofen (AUT) on Wednesday, Stoch has the lead by 809.9-794.7-789.3 over Kubacki and Granerud.

The men’s and women’s Nordic Combined events in Otepaa (EST) were canceled due to the coronavirus situation in Estonia.

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