The Untold Truth Of Olympic Medalist Jessie Diggins

Champion American Olympic cross country skier Jessie Diggins carries with her high expectations in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympic games in Beijing, China, scheduled to begin February 4. Skiing since the age of 3, Diggins has had many successes and setbacks on the way to the top. She's also pursued many other interests and passions beyond the sport of cross-country skiing, per US Ski and Snowboard. In 2022, cross-country fans hope for a repeat of her performance four years earlier, at the Winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Most importantly, though, Diggins' work both on skies and in her personal life has inspired younger generations of female athletes to follow in her footsteps, while also supporting many social issues and causes close to her heart. More than anything, Diggins' story serves as an inspiration for anyone overcoming similar challenges faced by the Olympian early on in her life, as well as anyone interested in competing at the highest levels in life or in sports.

First ever American gold in her Olympic event

According to the official Team USA website, Jessis Diggins was born in 1991 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Diggins began to ski as a toddler, and as a teen, she ranked at the top of the Minnesota High School rankings, according to Skinny Ski. By the age of 10, she was added to the United States' World Junior Cross-Country Ski Team (also via Skinny Ski). In addition to her success at the World Championships and at the FIS World Cup — winning four medals and repeatedly placing in the top 10, respectively — Diggins would eventually take home gold in an Olympics event no American had ever placed first in: Women's team sprint at the 2018 PyeongChang games, alongside her teammate Kikkan Randalt, per the International Ski Federation.

In the 2020-21 season, Diggins also won the World Cup overall title, making her the first female competitor to ever do so, according to NBC Sports. Of these accomplishments, Diggins said, "It's always been a big dream of mine to be able to show up ready to play, no matter what it is: distance, sprint, classic [style], skate [style], skiathlon. Whatever it is, I want to show up and be ready to give it my best fight. I'm finally getting to that place in my career" (via NBC Sports).

The first American to win the FIS Tour de Ski

Adding to her on-the-slope success, in the 2020–21 season, she became the first American woman to take top honors at the Tour de Ski, an eight-stage event that's something like the Tour De France for cross-country skiing. Overall, she won two of the eight stages, standing on top of the podium four times throughout the event, according to NBC Sports.

Notably, no Norwegians, who generally dominate the field at the FIS Tour de Ski, entered the 2020–21 event due to the pandemic, but nevertheless, Diggins' first-ever championship finish for an American is quite an accomplishment. She reflected on the occasion for NBC Sports, saying, "This is a lifelong goal. It's so cool for our country to show that it's possible. Now I'm looking forward to resting." Diggins' final time was about a minute-and-a-half faster than that of the next closest competitor, Yuliya Stupak, from Russia.

She's written a book

As Diggins revealed in her 2020 autobiography, "Brave Enough," the champion athlete also experienced bulimia nervosa as a teenager, an eating disorder causing some individuals to eat excess calories, only to purge them later in an unhealthy manner, according to the Mayo Clinic. Worsening the issue for Diggins were pressures related to academic overachievement, excelling at the violin from a very young age, and competing at a very high level in her sport while still only in high school.

According to Faster Skier, Diggins, a self-described "sparkly chipmunk," wrote in her book, "I had everything in the world going for me, and nothing to complain about. Which is why when I started to struggle with an eating disorder, I felt such shame. Why did I have this problem? I didn't have any reason to have an eating disorder (so I thought)." As Diggins also records in her memoir, she received treatment for her disordered eating and is now managing recovery.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Social activism

Relating to her experience living with and recovering from an eating disorder early on in life, Diggins supplements her on-skis career with a number of social causes near and dear to her heart, via the Star Tribune. Since 2019, in fact, Diggins has served as a spokesperson for the Emily Program, a national leader in eating disorder treatment and recovery, with locations all over the United States, according to the organization's official website.

"I talk about my history with an eating disorder not only for the young athletes I know who are reading this right now and thinking 'wait ... that's ME,' but also for their parents, coaches, friends and teammates who are trying to figure out what it might be like to actually have an eating disorder," Diggins wrote on the Emily Program website. Diggins is also involved in Protect our Winters (POW), an environmental advocacy group working to mitigate climate change, per Ice a Trail, as well as Fast and Female, supporting women under 18 interested in sports, according to US Ski and Snowboard.

Adrenaline addiction

As is often the case with winter sports enthusiasts, Jessie Diggins is otherwise a "huge adrenaline junkie," according to US Ski and Snowboard, even when the weather is warm. Other extreme pastimes the cross-country Olympic champion enjoys include skydiving and cliff jumping. She also loves to dance. Add to that bungee jumping, via the official Olympics website. And per Team USA, Diggins is also an all-around outdoors enthusiast, enjoying hiking, canoeing, camping, and swimming, as well as reading, gardening, and cooking.

About the experience of skydiving for the very first time, Diggins wrote on her website, "I'd wanted to skydive for a couple years, especially after going bungee jumping in Whister the summer of 2009 ... It was such a cool experience, and I feel so lucky! I also can't wait to do it again." For fans of Winter Olympic competition and cross-country skiing, watching Jessie Diggins compete in the 2022 Olympic games will be all the rush they need.