KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Even before the race, cross-country skier Jessica Diggins knew she was going to shine in the opening event of her first Olympics.
Like her American teammates in the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon Saturday, Diggins put on a massive layer of glitter makeup.
But it wasn't just her face that sparkled. Her skiing did, too. The Afton, Minn. native finished eighth, trailing gold medalist Marit Bjoergen of Norway by 1 minute, 31.9 seconds.
''That was awesome, that felt incredible,'' Diggins said. ''I am so happy I am just on cloud nine right now.''
Diggins said she targeted a finish ''in the top 20, not the top 10.''
''This was one of the best races in my life,'' she said. ''It just felt so good to have a good race, and especially on a hard course at the Olympics, my parents watching, to hear them out cheering for me just gave me the boost I needed.''
Diggins, who won the world team sprint title alongside Kikkan Randall last year, said she will stick to the same glitter makeup routine for her upcoming events in Sochi.
''This is fun. I do it because I love it,'' she says. ''When I am happy and when I am having fun, then that's when I race well.''
The only thing that didn't work out perfectly for Diggins on Saturday was her attempt to paint her ponytail red, white and blue: ''Well, it's more like pink, white and blue.''
- By Eric Willemsen - Twitter http://twitter.com/eWilmedia
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu