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Afton skier places fifth in skiathlon, highest Olympic finish ever

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Jessie Diggins competes in 15km skiathlon
Jessie Diggins competes during the Ladies Cross Country Skiing 15km Skiathlon on day one of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Clive Mason | Getty

Jessie Diggins placed fifth in the 15-kilometer skiathlon, the highest Olympic finish ever for a U.S. women's cross-country skier. Diggins narrowly missed a chance to become the first American woman to earn a medal in cross-country skiing, she was third in the World Cup standings coming into the race.

In the first medal event of the Winter Olympics on Saturday, Sweden's Charlotte Kalla won the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon by more than seven seconds. 

This is the second Olympics for Diggins, 26, and in the four years since Sochi, she's climbed higher in World Cup rankings. In early January, she became the first American skier to medal at Europe's punishing Tour de Ski.

 Diggins grew up in Afton, and says that as a child, her parents would take her along in a backpack when they went out skiing. She caught the racing bug later on, when she joined the ski team at Stillwater High School.