Two Alaskan skiers to compete in cross-country sprints in Pyeongchang

Ross Houston
February 21, 2018

Kikkan Randall ploughed a lonely furrow in USA cross country skiing for years, but her diligence was rewarded on Wednesday when relay team mate Jessica Diggins dug deep to deliver the gold she had dreamed of since her first Olympics in 2002. They won the first-ever Olympic medal for the USA women's cross-country skiing team - and it was a gold one.

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. Bjoergen now has won 14 career medals at the Winter Olympic Games, passing Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjourndalen for the most ever. She won two medals - a silver and a bronze - at the 2017 world championships. Those were the highest Olympic finishes ever recorded by an American woman.

Randall, a five-time Olympian, started cross-country ski racing in 1998 with the goal of winning the first Olympic medal for USA women.

"I had so much adrenaline as she was coming down, but if there's anybody I'd have 100 percent faith in coming down that finishing stretch as fast as possible, it's Jessie", said the 35-year-old Randall who is competing in her fifth Olympics.

Diggins surged past and thrust her ski across the line 0.19 seconds ahead of Nilsson. She also was sixth in the classic sprint. Diggins quickly took the lead once again in impressive fashion on the first ascent before falling back to third about halfway through the final lap. Randall has set the bar in US cross country skiing, landing on the World Cup podium 29 times in her career.

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

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered four Olympic Games, PyeongChang is her fifth.

Her new book, World Class: The Making of the U.S. Women's Cross-Country Ski Team, depicts the rise of the American women, including Jessie Diggins.

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