United States wins 1st gold in women's cross-country skiing


USA's Jessica Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall react after winning gold in the women's cross country team sprint free final during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2018. Team USA ended their 42-year Olympic medal drought in cross-country skiing Wednesday and they made American cross-country history in the process. Randall, 35, in her fifth Olympics, and Diggins, 26, in her second, won gold in a thrilling team ski sprint final, with Diggins edging past Sweden and Norway in the final lap. The medal was only the second ever won by a US cross-country skier at the Winter Games.

Diggins, of Afton, completed the come-from-behind win, passing Sweden in the home stretch to take the top spot. Bjoergen now has won 14 career medals at the Winter Olympic Games, passing Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjourndalen for the most ever.

The race paired Diggins, who has won more world championship medals than any US cross-country skier in history, with Randall, the veteran whose success made the Americans contenders after years of futility.

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This season, Randall has struggled with tendonitis in her foot but worked her way back to racing form through these Games.

But Diggins, who finished sixth in the individual sprint and fifth in both the 15k and the 4 x 5 relay, found a stunning extra gear at the end.

Diggins came to PyeongChang peaking at the right time. The two previously teamed up to win the 2013 world championship in the team sprint.

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Diggins has also won four world championship medals, including silver in the sprint and bronze in the team sprint at 2017 worlds, and this season is now ranked third overall in world cup standings.

She won her final World Cup race before the Olympics, a 10km freestyle mass start on January 28, and is now third in the overall World Cup standings.

Sprinting - especially uphill - is her specialty though, and the course that included a nasty ascent gave her a golden opportunity for a prize that had eluded American skiers for more than four decades.

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