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

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

The pair became the first American cross-country skiers to win a gold medal, capturing the women's team sprint at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea, beating out the Swedes and Norwegians.

Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall took first place in the women's freestyle team sprint.

Jessie Diggins knew it was time to make a move if she wanted to end the United States' 42-year cross-country Olympic medal drought.

Randall's job was to keep the Americans close enough while racing against Marit Bjoergen and Sweden's Charlotte Kalla - arguably the world's best two female cross-country skiers - for three laps.

Full report to follow.

An Alaskan skier made Olympic history today.

"Hearing it out loud", Randall said, "it still doesn't feel real".

This was Randall's fifth Winter Olympic games.

More news: Turkish, Free Syrian Army forces free village in Afrin

There's also snowboarding. Pushed forward a day because of predicted bad weather, the first finals of Olympic snowboarding will start with the women at 7:30 p.m. with the last run is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Then it was a matter of putting all of her own energy into the finish - and Diggins said that when she saw Randall at the finish line, "I was so excited and so happy, and also I couldn't feel my legs".

"Kikkan kind of started all this ... there was a long time when she was the only woman we had on the team, she was out there by herself, with a bunch of guys running around Europe", says Luke Bodensteiner, chief of sport for US Ski and Snowboard, who broke down in tears at the finish line.

Randall's gold medal may finally take the sting away from her experience in the Sochi Olympics in 2014, when she lunged across the finish line in a quarter-final sprint - only to learn she had been beaten. It's what I've been working on for 20 years and with this team, for the last five years and ... wow. Bjoergen, who won her 14 Olympic medal tonight and eighth gold, solidifying her spot as the most decorated Winter Olympian ever. On Wednesday, the United States finally won its first medal.

Koch was the only other American to win a medal in cross-country, taking home silver at the 1976 Innsbruck Games. Except this time Diggins was the anchor, not Randall.

"It's hard to understand, actually", Bjørgen, a medallist in all four events she has contested at Pyeongchang 2018, said. "And I think Kikkan and Jess felt that (support) on the course".

Now the pair are Olympic champions, and the USA's cross country drought has broken.

Falla's bronze was her second of these Olympics.

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