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Afton’s Jessie Diggins wins second Tour de Ski title

Jessie Diggins won the women's overall title at the Tour de Ski, finishing in sixth place in Sunday's final stage to wrap up the championship in the multi-stage cross-country skiing event.

It was the second Tour de Ski title for the Afton native, who is the only American ever to capture the overall crown. Diggins won by 31.6 seconds over Heidi Weng of Norway, with Finland's Kerttu Niskanen third. The Tour de Ski spanned seven stages over nine days in Italy and Switzerland.

Sunday's race in Val di Fiemme, Italy was a 10k freestyle that ended with a grinding ascent up Alpe Cermis, one of the toughest courses in cross-country skiing. Diggins started the day with a 43-second lead for the overall title.

Though she was dealing with hip pain from a fall Thursday, she remained within the top eight throughout Sunday's race, moving up to third at the 7.5k mark. Diggins struggled a bit on the final 495-meter climb up an Alpine ski slope, but her time was fast enough to hold off her challengers for the overall championship.

Diggins' American teammate Sophia Laukli won Sunday's race in 38 minutes, 16.5 seconds, earning her first World Cup victory. Diggins' time was 39:05.

"It was really painful," Diggins told FIS-ski.com. "I'm excited for some time to rest."

During the seven stages of the Tour de Ski, Diggins reached the podium four times, showcasing her versatility. She won a 20k freestyle pursuit and added third-place finishes in a 10k classic, a freestyle sprint and a 20k classic pursuit.

She leads the World Cup overall standings with 1,402 points, 308 more than second-place Linn Svahn of Sweden. Diggins has three World Cup victories this season, tying her career best, and her eight podium finishes also equal her career high.

Next month, Diggins is expected to return to Minnesota for the World Cup races at Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The Feb. 17-18 event, the first World Cup in the United States since 2001, includes a freestyle sprint and a 10k freestyle for men and women.