PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 21: Jessica Diggins of USA and Kikkan Randall of USA celebrates their gold during the women’s Cross Country Team Sprint Free Technique at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on February 21, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)
Cross-country skiers Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins became the first Americans to win a gold medal in a cross-country skiing Olympic event. The last medal, a silver, was won by Bill Koch in 1976.
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While much of the United States was still sleeping early Wednesday morning, what was once one of America’s most far-fetched Olympic dreams — a gold in cross-country skiing — really did come true Wednesday evening in PyeongChang. Team USA finished the two-person relay event at the Alpensia Cross Country Skiing Centre with a time of 15 minutes, 56.47 seconds – just 0.19 seconds ahead of Sweden.
After it was over, Luke Bodensteiner, chief of sport for the American team and a former Olympic cross county skier, fell to his knees and cried.
Even athletes from other countries celebrated America’s surprise victory. “I’m so happy for the U.S.,” says Canadian skier Len Valjas. Before the start of the men’s final — won by Norway — a technician told Valjas the U.S. women had won. Valjas felt an extra bolt of energy. “It’s a win for North America,” he says.
USA’s gold medallists Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the cross country women’s free team sprint at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)