U.S. ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with historic gold

Jessie Diggins

The long, long wait is over.

Team USA ended their 42-year Olympic medal drought in cross-country skiing Wednesday and they made American cross-country history in the process.

Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall became the first American cross-country skiers to capture a gold medal by winning the women’s team sprint at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea. Sweden captured silver and Norway took home bronze.

Diggins and Randall are the first American women to win an Olympic medal and join Bill Koch as the only American cross-country skiers to earn an Olympic medal.

Koch picked up the silver medal in the men’s 30km in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1976.

Marit Bjorgen and Maiken Caspersen Falla secured Norway’s 12th medal of these Olympics. Bjorgen now sits alone as the most decorated Winter Olympian with 14 medals.

Falla gets her second medal of these Games. She won silver in the individual sprint last week.

Team USA earned the first-place position in the finals after Diggins and Randall skied the fastest overall time during the semifinals. They skied their semifinal run in 16 minutes, 22.56 seconds, and finished 0.72 seconds faster than Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson.

In the finals, Diggins and Randall faced off against a Norwegian team that was coasted in the semifinal and Sweden, who was less than a second slower than the Americans in the semis.

The race came down to a sprint between Diggins and Nilsson and Diggins was just a bit faster.

The silver medal is Kalla’s fourth medal of these Games and it’s the third medal for Nilsson.

Cross-country has two days off before returning Saturday with the men’s 50km mass start followed up by its final event, the women’s 30km mass start, Sunday.

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