U.S. Wins First Gold in Cross-Country Skiing

The United States is an Olympic powerhouse in a lot of sports, but not cross-country skiing. But today, two American women broke one of the longest droughts in U.S. Olympic history.

Jessie Diggins Kikkan Randall US Gold Medal Cross Country Skiing
Diggins, left, and Randall celebrate gold in the Team Sprint 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang; Photo by Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins have done what no other U.S. skier has done before. The duo won the women’s team sprint freestyle race at the Pyeongchang games.

They defeated teams from Norway and Sweden (among a host of other top athletes) in the historic victory. Watch a replay of the event here.

U.S. Women Make History

A simple fact shows how big a deal this win is for the U.S. Olympians: The last Olympic cross-country skiing win by Team USA was in 1976, when Bill Koch took silver in the 30-km event in Innsbruck.

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That was 42 years ago. Since then, there hasn’t been a single U.S. medal in cross-country skiing, a sport dominated by Nordic countries.

The team sprint event puts teams of two women head to head after a mass start for about 5 miles in a total six 1.3-km laps. Teammates alternate each lap.

Randall, of Anchorage, Alaska, and Diggins, of Afton, Minn., finished in a winning time of 15:56.47, finishing just a fraction of a second ahead of Sweden.

Diggins, as the anchor of the race, battled from behind to overcome Sweden’s Stina Nilsson at the wire. And then the celebration began.

Diggins collapsed in exhaustion, and Randall ran onto the track, jumping onto her teammate in a warm embrace.

“Hearing it out loud, it still doesn’t feel real,” said Randall, a five-time Olympian. “It’s what I’ve been working on for 20 years and with this team for the last 5 years and, wow, it’s just so fun to put it together tonight, finally.”

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Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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