It's going to be harder for the Europeans to shrug this one off.
Minnesotan Jessie Diggins won a 5-kilometer freestyle cross country World Cup ski race Friday in Toblach, Italy, against the top Nordic skiers in the world, including a pack of Norwegians who took the second, third, fourth and fifth places.
The victory, in the sixth leg of the grueling 10-day, eight-race Tour de Ski series, isn't the first time the 24-year-old Diggins has been on an international podium.
Back in 2013, she teamed up with fellow American Kikkan Randall to win the freestyle team sprint at the World Championships, becoming the first Americans to win gold in a cross country skiing world championship.
Sprint race victories like that were the first cracks American women made in the European dominance of elite cross country skiing.
But the traditional powerhouses like Sweden, Norway, Germany and Finland could console themselves that even though the Americans could win the short races, the Euros still held a lock on the traditional long-distance events.
At least until last year, when Diggins and fellow Minnesotan Caitlin Gregg notched historic second- and third-place finishes in the 10-kilometer freestyle at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden.
At the time, there was some grumbling from the Europeans that the Americans were lucky. They believed that a snowstorm that hit in the middle of the race hampered the favorites who had later start times.
In the interval start event, the Afton woman started 24th out of 46 racers, meaning some of the top rivals who started behind her knew the split times and finish times they had to beat to finish ahead of her.But Diggins' win Friday shows that the successes of American women aren't a fluke. Diggins prevailed even though the Europeans may have had a bit of an advantage going into Friday's race.
It was close. Diggins' time of 13 minutes, 15.5 seconds was only 0.9 seconds ahead of second-place Heidi Weng and 1.5 seconds ahead of third-place Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg.
"They all had her time to shoot for," said Diggins' mother, Deb Diggins.
"Today's race certainly removed any doubt whether Jessie can be skiing with the world's best," said her father, Clay Diggins. "It's the payoff of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of training."
According to FasterSkier.com, it was the first victory for an American woman in a modern World Cup race longer than 3 kilometers.
"It is not any kind of fluke. She is in top form," said Ahvo Taipale, a longtime cross country skiing coach and owner of the Finn Sisu ski shop in Lauderdale. "I've seen her since she was 12 years old, and the determination and focus she has is different from any young woman I've ever known."
Taipale believes the three-time Nordic ski state champion at Stillwater High School is just now coming of age.
"She is finally reaching the maturity and durability a World Cup athlete needs," he said.
Diggins' victory comes on the heels of another American win, when Sophie Caldwell won the 1.2-kilometer classic sprint in the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski earlier in the week. Norwegians Weng and Oestberg were second and third in that race, too.
"The U.S. women's cross country ski team has really become a force to be reckoned with," said Kris Hansen, Diggins' former coach at Stillwater. "It has been a long time coming, but it has been coming for some time."
Diggins is the top-ranked American in 10th place overall in the Tour de Ski series, which winds up Sunday with the traditional climb up Mount Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
"It's really fun that we have such a strong team," Diggins said after her victory. "This was a big surprise for everyone, most especially me."
But maybe it shouldn't be for the Europeans.
Three years ago, before Diggins became known to many Americans, a Swedish television crew came to the Twin Cities to do a profile on her, seeing her as a potential threat to some of the Scandinavian skiing stars.
"I told them Jessie can be a medalist in the near future," Taipale said.
Richard Chin can be reached at 651-228-5560. Follow him at twitter.com/RRChin.