How Do You Spell Development?
American male distance result at U23s since Kris Freeman won in
2003: a ninth-place finish in the 15K skate. Hoffman downplayed
his finish, calling it a “good result, for an average-to-good feeling day.” (He was 31st in the 15K skate World Cup in Gaellivare
in November). But it was the best male finish of the week at the
JWC/U23 event in Otepaa, Estonia.
Central Cross Country’s Jesse Diggins led the women’s contingent in Estonia, pulling down seventh and 12th place finishes,
respectively, in the 5K skate and 10K duathlon in the junior divisions. Diggins spent her early season on home turf, but this
was her third time competing at the Junior World Championships,
and her first breaking into the top ten. “Seeing myself slowly get
knocked off the podium was kind of disappointing,” she said after
sitting in third for several minutes after she finished. “But still, a
top- 10 is huge for me.”
But even with these bright spots, Grover wasn’t satisfied with the
American contingent’s performance in Estonia as a whole.
“I’m definitely a little bit disappointed for how it went at the Championships,” he said.
“I thought we would do better than we did. I know we had good
coaches, good skis every day, and Matt [Whitcomb, USST Trip
Leader] was really pleased with how everything went logistical-ly… However, we had a big team and lots of opportunities and
we missed those. We need to evaluate how we are preparing
athletes for this event.”
Historically, American results at Junior World Championships
and U23s are a streak of blown opportunities and not necessarily
a lack of potential, according to Grover.
“This group needs more European experience,” he said. “If you
look at results from the past several years, we have a lot of blown
chances: broken poles, bad starts, broken skis, poles falling off,
getting passed in the finish lanes, etc. We don’t have a lot of experience jostling at the highest level. That kind of thing is always
Jessie Diggins races in
the 5K at Otepaa.