Travel with Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins on her compelling journey from America’s heartland to international sports history, navigating challenges and triumphs with rugged grit and a splash of glitter
Pyeongchang, February 21, 2018. In the nerve-racking final seconds of the women’s team sprint freestyle race, Jessie Diggins dug deep. Blowing past two of the best sprinters in the world, she stretched her ski boot across the finish line and lunged straight into Olympic immortality: the first ever cross-country skiing gold medal for the United States at the Winter Games. The 26-year-old Diggins, a four-time World Championship medalist, was literally a world away from the small town of Afton, Minnesota, where she first strapped on skis. Yet, for all her history-making achievements, she had never strayed far from the scrappy 12-year-old who had insisted on portaging her own canoe through the wilderness, yelling happily under the unwieldy weight on her shoulders: “Look! I’m doing it!”
In Brave Enough, Jessie Diggins reveals the true story of her journey from the American Midwest into sports history. With candid charm and characteristic grit, she connects the dots from her free-spirited upbringing in the woods of Minnesota to racing in the bright spotlights of the Olympics. Going far beyond stories of races and ribbons, she describes the challenges and frustrations of becoming a serious athlete; learning how to push through and beyond physical and psychological limits; and the intense pressure of competing at the highest levels. She openly shares her harrowing struggle with bulimia, recounting both the adversity and how she healed from it in order to bring hope and understanding to others experiencing eating disorders.
Between thrilling accounts of moments of triumph, Diggins shows the determination it takes to get there—the struggles and disappointments, the fun and the hard work, and the importance of listening to that small, fierce voice: I can do it. I am brave enough.
Praise For Brave Enough…
"Jessie Diggins was a world-class athlete long before she became an Olympic gold medalist. In Brave Enough, she shows world-class courage by sharing the truth about her eating disorder, her therapy, and the multitude of challenges, doubts, fears, and assorted bogeymen that are so often an untold part of the journey to greatness. She deserves another gold medal for her honesty and her inspiration."—Wayne Coffey, New York Times bestselling author of The Boys of Winter
"I’m honored to have played a role in inspiring Jessie on her journey to Olympic Gold. Brave Enough is a befitting title for this brutally honest and powerful story. As an athlete, Jessie was brave enough to win on the world’s biggest sporting stage. As a writer, she is brave enough to share a raw, heart-wrenching, nothing-held-back look at the struggles she went through to succeed. It’s an inspiring story, worthy of gold."—Jackie Joyner-Kersee
"Already an inspiration to us all, Jessie once again shows her courage to leave it all on the track by sharing her deeply personal story. Readers will be encouraged by how one woman created a path forward for herself—and helped and uplifted so many in the process."—Ann Bancroft
"Brave Enough is a powerful story that shows that striving for excellence can be essential in sport, yet not even Olympic champions are immune from its unforeseen destructive consequences. With admirable vulnerability, Jessie demonstrates how to be a leader and ‘best teammate’ while also being open to help and support from others. Her story motivates all of us, and she gives us hope and real tools to tackle our biggest challenges. I have never been more proud of my teammate and friend . . . not only has Jessie defeated foes on the race trails but she has courageously conquered the demons in her mind to become a true champion. She is an inspiration for everyone!"—Kikkan Randall, Olympic Champion and World Champion
"Jessie has one of the most infectiously positive and bubbly personalities of anyone I have ever met. That, combined with her fierce drive and unwavering grit, is what makes her an inspiration to so many people, including myself, but I never realized just how inspiring she truly is until I read this book. World, meet the force that is Jessie Diggins."—Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympic Champion and World Champion
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 9781517908195, 296pp.
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
About the Author
Jessie Diggins was raised in Afton, Minnesota, and became a professional skier at the age of nineteen. A two-time Olympian and four-time World Championship medalist, she is the most decorated U.S. cross-country athlete in World Championship history. She and teammate Kikkan Randall became the first Olympic Gold medalists in U.S. cross country history in the 2018 PyeongChang team sprint. She resides at least part time in Stratton, Vermont, where she is a member of the Stratton Mountain School T2 elite team.
Todd Smith is author of Hockey Strong. His sportswriting has contributed to Minnesota Hockey, USA Hockey, and the Minnesota Wild on the NHL Network. His work has been published in The Rake Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, and Twin Cities METRO Magazine, and he has been a commentator on Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current and WCCO Radio.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. “I have loved being outdoors pretty much since birth,” Jessie writes to open Brave Enough. Diggins grew up in Afton, Minnesota, and had an extremely active childhood, surrounded by a natural world that became her imaginary kingdom. In what ways did Jessie’s childhood setting inform her future career? In what ways are people a product of their environment?
2. One of the most emotional parts of Brave Enough is when Jessie reveals intimate details about her eating disorder and her time in treatment at the Emily Program. In her honesty, Jessie wanted to open a conversation about eating disorders. How did these chapters affect you? What did you learn about eating disorders? How can we help others that are struggling with disordered eating?
3. Jessie has worked with a lot of amazing women and men during her career that all have different leadership styles. Kikkan Randall leads by example, Sophie Caldwell is quiet and supportive, Liz Stephen is the team Mom, and Jessie is the team’s cheerleader. Which teammate’s style of leadership do you most relate to?
4. In 2018, Jessie and Kikkan Randall won the gold medal in the team sprint at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. What would it feel like to see Jessie charge toward the finish line in one of the most dramatic sprints to the finish in sports history? If you won the Olympics, what would be the first thing you’d like to do? What causes would you use your new platform for?
5. As a cross-country skier who has been traveling all around the world since her teens, Jessie has seen the effects that climate change has had on our world. For example, many World Cup races in mountain ski towns are now held entirely on man-made snow. How have you seen the changing climate impact your life or the lives of others as you travel? What actions can we all do to make a positive impact?