Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

US ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with historic gold

US ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with historic gold

The United States took home its first medal ever in women's cross-country skiing Wednesday as Team USA, consisting of Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, won a surprise gold in the women's team sprint.

Jessie Diggins celebrates as she crosses the line to win gold in the women's cross-country team sprint free at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on February 21, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Norway has dominated the cross-country races at these Games.

But Randall and Diggins pulled out a victory in the team sprint free, a grueling event in which two racers pass the relay back and forth three times. Diggins screamed as she crossed the finish line, setting off a huge celebration for the red, white and blue.

Norwegian skier Marit Bjoergen won the bronze with team-mate Maiken Caspersen Falla. Sweden took silver and Norway finished with a bronze, which allowed Bjoergen to secure her record 14th medal in the Winter Games.

Sweden and Norway were hot favorites for yet another gold medal in women's cross-country skiing and the Nordic nations were at the head of the pack for nearly the entire race.

Jessie Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall are the first American women to win Olympic medals in cross-coiuntry skiing.

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Diggins quickly grabbed the lead and tagged off to Randall in first place.

Diggins and Randall are already world champions in the team sprint, having won the event in 2013.

"I am very proud of our performance, I was really digging deep today to get the power over the last 100 meters, but today U.S. was too strong and I really think they deserve the gold medal", Nilsson said. Her three fifths are best-ever finishes for the American women.

The race was the fifth of these Olympics for Diggins, 26.

After individual ski sprint made its Olympic debut in Salt Lake City 2002, team ski sprint debuted in Turin in 2006.

The pair finished the semifinal in a time of 16:22.56, more than 10 minutes faster than Norway's winning time of 16:33.26 in the other heat.

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