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USA ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with incredible photo finish

22 February, 2018, 01:21 | Author: Lora Ball
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Just over a year later, Diggins and Randall won the world championship team sprint title - the first ever world title for the Americans.

"It was hard to make this team and when I got the nod the other day to race in the event, I knew I had an important job to do", Randall said.

Jessie Diggins celebrates as she crosses the line to win gold in the women's cross-country team sprint free at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on February 21, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The United States waited a long, long time to celebrate like this, and on Wednesday Olympians Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall made it happen, ending a 42-year medal drought in cross-country skiing.

Bill Koch, who won a silver medal at the 1976 Innsbruck Games, is the only other American to medal in the event.

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Kikkan Randall is there at the finish and runs out to Diggins, who collapses onto the snow. Diggins lunged at the finish line 0.2 seconds ahead of Sweden's Stina Nilsson.

"Around that final corner I felt like I was uncoiling a spring and letting it go", Diggins said. The Norwegian athlete is the most decorated Winter Olympian (14 medals).

"It's time to start dropping people", Diggins said. With plans firmly in place to retire and make a new home with her family after the 2018 Games, it seemed possible that Randall, 35, might see her career end without an Olympic medal.

The women of Team USA have long talked about the positive effects of a strong team. Then, as she beat individual sprint gold medalist Nilsson to the line, she screamed and the celebration began. Diggins had three top-six finishes at the Olympics and Randall was skiing well, too.

Discussing her strategy, Diggins said that she wanted to push the pace early, to try to take some energy from the sprinters she was up against. And he said the entire American women's cross-country team came out to practice on Tuesday morning with Diggins and Randall.

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"I am very proud of our performance, I was really digging deep today to get the power over the last 100 metres, but today United States of America was too strong, and I really think they deserve the gold medal", Nilsson said.

The U.S. hasn't won gold since the debut of the sport 20 years ago.

Falla's bronze was her second of these Olympics.

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. She won silver in the individual sprint.

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